Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jagga Jasoos review: "Unique & absorbing but not many would share the same opinion!!!"

The Indian eves have booked their place in the WC semis & Roger will be gunning for his 19th Grand Slam title in less than 6 h from now. Since I had time at my disposal, I decided to check out "Jagga Jasoos" after I was done with the household shopping for the week. Ever since I had seen the trailer, I was enthralled by the manner it was picturised as it seemed like a mishmash of Hollywood & Bollywood (in a good way). With a stellar cast & crew behind the making of the movie, the expectations are nigh high. So will it be a critical & commercial success like "Barfi"???


Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) was an orphan who had the problem of stammering but had a keen eye for detail which made him an expert at deduction. He didnt have anyone for company, until he was adopted by Badal Bagchi aka Tooti Footi (Saswata Chatterjee) who instilled in him the confidence to overcome his stammer. Life moved on happily for Jagga, until his father puts him in the boarding school & leaves on a secret mission. Over the next few years, the only contact that Jagga had with his father was the video cassette that Tooti Footi used to sent him on his birthday. But when the present stops coming, he senses that some danger might have befallen his father & sets out to unravel it with the help of the journalist, Shruti (Katrina Kaif). 

This impressive piece of art is the creation of Anurag Basu, who continues his fine form after "Barfi" which was released five years back. Scripted by Anurag himself, the film is a combination of different genres such as musical, mystery & adventure. Kudos to his vision, as it engrosses our attention even though it runs close to three hours. The protagonist seems to be a desi version of Tintin & the whole movie has basically got three separate cases which gets bigger & grander as it reaches the climax. 

Personally speaking, I absolutely loved the musical format & all the technical aspects were brilliant. Pritam & Amitabh Bhattacharya deserves praise for their excellent music & lyrics such as "Khaana Khaake", "Galti se Mistake" etc which accentuates the mood of the movie. Equally impressive was Ravi Varman's visuals that captivates us. Ranbir was brilliant as Jagga & has done utmost justice to the role. The same amount of praise or even more applies to Saswata as well, who would be familiar to many as the assassin in "Kahaani". Saurabh Shukla rocks as usual while Katrina & Rajatava Dutta have done their parts aptly as well. 

Verdict: The unique treatment & musical format might not be palatable to many as was evidenced by the mixed reviews that had come out. From my point of view, it is an excellent movie which is distinct in flavour & yet ticks all the desired boxes that would entertain the audience. In short, definitely check it out; who knows maybe you will also love it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mom review: "Impresses for large parts but lacks the edge of the seat effect!!!"

Over the years, we have heard & read about articles which scream hoarse about the importance of women equality. There is no doubt that it is a fundamental right that is extremely important for the upliftment of the female gender & development of any nation. However, I believe all of this will happen unless the women is given the respect that they deserve as a human being rather than a commodity for gratification. Sadly, we are witness to news about gory rape incidents all across our country every day & though there are rules in place, more often than not our judicial system is found to be woefully short. This is exactly what is depicted in Ravi Udyawar's "Mom" which has Sridevi as the protagonist. But Bollywood has a habit of making such movies pretty cliche & titillating rather than make us empathetic about the victim. Will this be any different???


Devki (Sridevi) is a Biology teacher in a respectable school in Delhi who is popular among her students. But she knew were to draw the line as Mohit, a wayward rich kid realised when she threw his mobile out of the window as punishment for sending a porn clip to her step daughter Arya (Sajal Ali). Even though, Devki adored Arya as her own child; the latter maintained a frosty relation with her. With Valentine's Day just round the corner, Arya sought the permission of her father Anand (Adnan Siddiqui) to attend the most happening party in the city. Though reluctant early on, he eventually agrees after Devki's persuasion. Little did they realise that this party would change their lives forever. 

The film was helmed by debutant Ravi Udyawar who is relatively well known in the advertising world. Along with Girish Kohli & Venkat Rao, he has scripted a story which is not unfamiliar to any of us due to similarities to real life incidents. Even otherwise as well, it is more or else similar to Raveena Tandon's "Maatr". But it would be fair to admit that this is a superior version of it, in terms of the way it has been shot & the caliber of the leading lady. However, it fails to thrill the audience & except for Sajal, we dont empathize with neither the sequences (except for the court scenes which was brilliant) nor the characters. Equally unrealistic was the manner in which the protagonist gets away with the crime. 

On the technical side, hats off to the Anay Goswami's slick visuals especially the manner in which the rape was picturised until the victim gets disposed. AR Rahman's BGM was brilliant & added to the overall impact. However, I wish Monisha Baldawa was more judicious with the editing. Coming to performances, this is Sridevi's first outing since "English Vinglish" & is her 300th movie in the 50th year of her film career. She carries the movie on her shoulders & brings her A game to the fore, though she hams it up at times. Sajal Ali was excellent along with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who provides the comic relief with his hilarious statements. Akshaye Khanna was wasted while the others have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: As expected, it is unlikely to create a rush at the box office due to the genre & grim nature of the subject. When it comes to the thread, it wont come across as anything unique but the manner in which it has been shot coupled with credible performances makes it worth watching. In short, it's definitely worth a try!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spider-man Homecoming review: "Marvel gets the Spidey series on the right track!!!"

In recent times, superhero movies have taken the world by storm & the two big players slugging it out for box office glory are DC & Marvel.  But it would be fair to admit that Marvel have come up on top invariably at all times. However, about a fortnight back I had watched "Wonderwoman" & my word, it was freaking awesome. It is surely the first genuine threat that DC had posed & Marvel would be hoping that they can negate that threat with the Spiderman franchise launched a third time. Hmm...it remains to be seen whether "Spiderman: Homecoming" would impress the audience or are there already too many spiders in the web???


The Avengers' battle with the Chitauris had demolished New York & the responsibility of cleaning up the city was entrusted upon Adrian Toomes (Micheal Keaton) & his salvage company. However, due to the risk of presence of exotic alien artifacts in the ruins; Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) Department of Damage Control took over the responsibility which put Adrian out of business. In order to make up for the loss, Adrian & his team enters into arms trafficking making use of the Chitauri technology that they had scavenged. Things moved along smoothly until a conflict broke out between Captain America & Iron Man (“Captain America: Civil War”) & the latter brings in Spiderman (Tom Holland) into his team. After the conflict was resolved, Stark informed Peter that he would be kept in the loop as he still needed further training before being inducted into the Avengers. But Peter was impatient & inspite of Stark’s stern message, tries to prove his worth by taking on criminals. It was during one such pursuit, that Spiderman stumbled upon Adrian’s arms deal. So did he have it in him to take on Adrian or was Stark right after all???

At the turn of the 21st century, Sony Pictures decided to launch the Spiderman series & it was a decision that they never regretted The first two parts were both critical & commercial successes with Tobey Maguire donning the suit, but the final part garnered mixed reviews. They rebooted the franchise with Andrew Garfield which also saw a see saw effect after the initial hype. However, Sony laughed their way to the bank as they reaped close to four times of what they had invested. Now they have joined hands with Disney & Marvel, to launch a new version which would be in turn integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Jon Watts was entrusted with the task & I would have to admit he has done a pretty good job despite the fact that he doesnt have a track record to harp about. The story by Goldstein & Francis Daley wouldnt make us sit up, but their screenplay made up for it with a lively premise. Interestingly they didnt waste time on the origin of Spiderman or characters like Uncle Ben, which was a smart move & gives us a fun filled breezy film instead that is so typical of Marvel productions. Tom Holland has done justice to his role while Michael Keaton breathes life into a villain which barely had much spice to it. As for the rest, Jacob Batalon as Ned was spot on, Marisa Tomei was wasted while Robert Downey Jr impresses in his extended cameo.

Verdict: Spiderman has got off to a roaring start cashing in about $117 million dollars over the weekend. Frankly speaking I was sceptical when I had seen the trailer as I felt Tom Holland didnt seem to have the X factor needed for the character In addition, the movie lacked a meaty storyline as it seemed like this was just to establish the character as we approach the Infinity War series. However, you can rest assured that when you watch the movie you would be thoroughly entertained!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tubelight review: "Kinda yakeen that it wont match Salman's usual box-office onslaught!!!"

The holy month of Ramadan has come to an end with the fast broken & the new moon sighted. So on this auspicious occasion of Eid Al Fitr, I would like to wish Allah's Rahmat on all my fellow brings for a peaceful & prosperous life. Apart from hogging on the goodies, one of the indispensable ways of celebrating a festival is watching a movie & when it comes to Bollywood, this day is invariably locked down for Salman. In accordance with the usual trend, Salman presents "Tubelight" this year hoping to add further light to the festivities. Hmm... but will it be able in the same league as his previous blockbusters???


Based on Alejandro Monteverde's "Little Boy", the tale is set against the backdrop of the Indo-China war in 1962. The protagonists were two brothers who lived in the misty town of Kumaon nestled in the hills. Laxman Singh (Salman Khan) is a man child (more along the lines of Forest Gump) who endeared to one & all due to his innocence & slow witted nature which gave him the nickname "Tubelight". He was looked after by his protective younger brother, Bharat (Sohail Khan) & life seemed to move along peacefully until war broke out between the two neighbouring nations. As it was the need of the hour, there was large induction of youth into the army & Bharat happened to be one of them. Even though reluctant to leave his brother, Bharat heads into the war zone. Since he feared for his brother's well being, Laxman makes efforts to bring his brother back home. But will the two brothers ever meet again???

After the bombastic success of "Bajrangi Bhaijaan", Kabir Khan has yet again joined hands with Salman for their third collaboration. If "Little Boy" had a 8 year old kid as the protagonist then Kabir Khan used his creative freedom & financial acumen to make it into a guy in his early 50s. The primary flaw here is that there isnt a credible thread to the script & it's all about Laxman putting his faith to the test (except that it came across as rather trivial). In such a scenario, the 136 minute long movie tests our patience which should have been taken care of by Rameshwar Bhagat. On the brighter side, I did like Pritham's tracks which was in sync with the mood created while Aseem Mishra has done a decent job with the visuals.

There is no doubt that Salman excels when he plays characters which exudes innocence & has a heart of gold. However, over here there were more emotionally charged sequences & he seemed rather inept at it; though we will still take a liking for his character's simplicity. Salman's scenes with Matin Rey Tenga worked out pretty well & the boy has given an impressive performance. Surprisingly, Sohail Khan has done a fine job in the few scenes that he appeared. The late Om Puri, Zhu Zhu, Zeeshan Ayub etc have all done justice to their parts. Shah Rukh's cameo as a magician was fantastic as he fitted the character perfectly.

Verdict: The weekend got off to a great start for Salman as "Sultan" won the best action movie award at the Shanghai International Film Festival. However, he wouldnt have got a similar high from "Tubelight" as the opening day collection was one of the lowest for his Eid releases. Well it's definitely not surprising due to the reasons mentioned earlier. In short, it is yakeen to fall well short of expectations!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben




Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sachin: A billion dreams review: "A whirlwind of emotions, nostalgia & goosebumps!!!"

India begins its defense of the Champions Trophy in a week's time with the first clash against arch rivals Pakistan. Whether our team manages to defend the title remains to be seen but this excitement for the game began after we had lifted the WC in 1983. However, it was the greatest cricketer of all time Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who skyrocketed our interest with his brilliance, humility & character. In the 90s, he was so dominant that the opposition feared him while the public adored him to the extent that people used to switch off the TV after he was dismissed. He has given us numerous memories over the years & carried the hopes of the nation for more than two decades. Hence when director James Erskine announced that he was planning a movie on the Bharat Ratna, the hype & excitement had gone through the roof.  In recent times, there has been quite a few biographical movies about sports personalities like M S Dhoni, Milkha Singh, Phogat etc. However, this was a docu-drama rather than an biopic & it remains to be seen whether it would be as awesome as the legend himself. 


Sachinnnn...Sachinnnn...the chant still reverberates in my ears every time I set eyes on a cricket match. Just like many others, he was the sole reason why I started to watch the game & is one of the two idols that I always looked upto (the other being my father). I still remember the day when I first saw him on TV giving an interview to Tom Alter. In those days, the only cricketer's name that I knew was Kapil Dev & I was pretty fascinated to see a puny kid who was just 8 years older to me rub shoulders with the big guys. So I coaxed my mom, who was an avid sports lover to teach me the rules of the game. Incidentally the first match that I saw was the exhibition match in which he smashed the legendary Abdul Qadar for 27 which included four consecutive sixes. This craze continued until he hung his boots at the Wankhede Stadium after 24 long years. Erskine has tried to capture the highs & lows of Sachin's career, something which is not so easy after all he must have been the most scrutinized sports icon in the world. So there is hardly anything that most of us don't know about the Master Blaster. 

James Erskine might not be a popular name for many but those who are well versed with sports documentaries, he is a doyen at it. Some of his popular ventures being "Battle of the Sexes", "Pantani", "Shooting for Socrates" etc. In his latest venture "Sachin: A Billion Dreams", he has pretty much covered all the major events in Sachin's life with insights provided by his family being the highlight. Knowing the person that Sachin is, it wasn't a surprise that nothing much has been revealed about the match fixing scandal but ample screen time is devoted on his relation with his father, his injuries & mental state during the lows of his career. Even though the music wasnt vintage A R Rahman, it was in sync with the mood & elevates the viewing experience. 

Verdict: It wont rate as a top notch documentary drama but it has got everything that would keep us hooked. Sachin is not just a name but an emotion & for all of those individuals who had followed his career, this will give us an opportunity to relive the memories. It will make us smile, hoot, whistle & even choke a bit when he gives his heartfelt retirement speech. Being a hard core Sachin fan, I  might be biased but even if you are only a cricket fan; you just cant afford to miss this!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hindi Medium review: "Impressive satire which all parents would relate to!!!"

As I was idling on my couch after a sumptuous Chinese buffet on Sunday afternoon with my friends, I happened to come across some articles about an Irrfan Khan movie titled "Hindi Medium" that had released over the weekend. Incidentally, it spoke positively about it & my curiosity was aroused as I was still hurting from the "Half Girlfriend" debacle. Though the thrilling IPL final & Real Madrid's La Liga triumph had made up for it, I decided to check it out after all I had some time to spare & Irrfan invariably had a track record of working in sensible movies. 


Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) is the owner of an expensive boutique in Chandni Chowk & was blessed with all the luxuries of life. However, he wasnt proficient in English & didnt quite have the mannerisms of the so called "elite class", which his wife Mita (Saba Qamar) aspired for. Both of them had studied in govt schools & Mita was pretty adamant that their daughter studied in one of Delhi's prestigious English medium schools. Out of the prominent schools, 'Prakriti' was the one which was most sought after but it had a condition that it would provide admission to only those who stayed within a 3 km radius. Hoping to keep his wife happy, Raj unwillingly agrees to shift to Vasant Vihar & make changes to their lifestyles to gel with the upscale neighbourhood . Little did they realize that this was the least of their problems.

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The scramble for admissions in prestigious schools is a sight which we see every year & it goes without saying that most parents would go to any extent to ensure that their child is enrolled into one. Another main reason for this mad race is our nation's obsession for English over regional languages & it is a fact beyond doubt  More often than not, the admission criteria for such schools is based on the bank balance of the parents, their lifestyles & status in society.  Saket Chaudhary who showcased his prowess with "Pyaar Ke Side Effects" & "Shaadi Ke Side Effects" has been successful in weaving a hilarious satire on the scamper for admissions in the company of Zeenat Lakhani. 

There are sequences in the movie which are far fetched but it still strikes a chord with the audience as it is both funny & thought provoking at times. Laxman Utrekar's visuals was in sync with the mood while Sachin-Jigar has given some decent tracks as well. Irrfan Khan rocked as the protagonist which yet again reiterated as to why he is held in high esteem in the West & his chemistry with Saba Qamar was one of the main positives of the movie. Apart from being a delight for the eyes, the Pakistani actress is undoubtedly the best from her country to have graced the Indian screen in recent times. Equally impressive were Deepak Dobriyal & Swati Das who nailed their parts while Amrita Singh was ok who was hampered by a rather weakly written role. 

Verdict: As far as the script is concerned, it is undoubtedly inspired from the Bengali movie "Ramdhanu" which was remade into "Salt Mango Tree"in Malayalam. The hilarious take on the plight of parents for admissions is something many of us would relate to. Though not meant to demean the Indian educational system in total, it poses relevant questions as to what each one of us considers as effective education for our children. In short, don't miss it!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Half girlfriend review: "Not worth watching even at half the price!!!"

What is the most important aspect of a movie? Hmm...well if you ask me it has to be the script. But that alone doesn't guarantee a good movie unless it is entrusted in the hands of a talented cast & crew. Irrespective of the language, literary works have always proved to be worthy scripts & over the years, many novels have been adapted into movies. Among the various novelists, Chetan Bhagat is one prominent name which pops up as many of his novels has been made into blockbuster movies such as "3 Idiots", "Kai Po Che" etc. His latest novel to have reached the 70mm screen is "Half Girlfriend". But will it be as successful as it's predecessors...hard to say, though to be frank, I don't believe it would.

Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), the heir to an esteemed lineage from Bihar secures a seat at the prestigious St Stephen's College on the back of a sports scholarship. He gets smitten by his college mate Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor), who was more like a tomboy & flaunted her affluent background. But behind that bold exterior she was actually a lonely girl who longed for love & companionship. Though Madhav was head over heels for her, she preferred to be aloof at times as she wasn't keen on a commitment or in her own words would prefer nothing more than being a "half girlfriend. Their relationship didnt last for long as Riya dropped out of college & was married off to her family friend. As expected, Madhav wasn't able to cope with the heart break & tried to channelize his energy towards the welfare of his villagers.

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The New York Times in 2008 cited Bhagat as "the biggest selling English language novelist in India's history". Well he might have sold quite a lot but a significant reason for the blockbusters was because they were in the hands of talented craftsmen like Rajkumar Hirani & Abhishek Kapoor. Mohit Suri does have some huge hits under his belt like "Aashiqui 2", "Murder 2" etc., but I don't quite consider him of the same caliber. Since I haven't read the novel, I can't comment as to how faithful the movie has been to it. But the fact is the plot itself is rather vague & the characters come across as rather shallow that you cant help cringing at times; not to forget that Mohit had chosen a wrong set of lead pairs who doesn't do justice to the requirements of their characters. 

If you would look at the track record of Mohit Suri, one positive aspect in almost all of his movies is the music. More often than not, all of them had atleast one chart buster & it's pretty much the same here as well. There are a host of music directors at work here & they have produced a couple of soulful tracks such as "Baarish", "Phir Bhi Tumko" etc. The visuals doesn't deserve special mention & Devendra Murusdeshwar's editing left a lot to be desired. Coming to the performances, neither Arjun nor Shraddha had the capabilities to pull off the characters. The one person who did impress was Vikrant Massey who has done a fine job as Shailesh.

Verdict: There are no two words about it, the film has a lot of pitfalls in the script & it was further handicapped by two lead actors who doesn't have it in them the ability to enact with conviction. To make matters worse, they had zero chemistry between them.  Even though not intended to be hilarious, the scene where they superimposed Bill Gates's face on someone else's body just shows how tacky the making has been. In short, better to watch the IPL final rather than give yourself a headache!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben