Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aramm review: "Realistic take on the plight of the poor in the socio-political environment!!!"

Our planet has experienced unprecedented changes in the past decade or so, primarily due to the utter negligence of the human race. Pollution has touched alarming levels across the globe with our very own capital creating headlines when the PM 2.5 particles in air touched 30 times the WHO safety limits last week. The story is equally bleak when it come to water as rampant pollution & climate change has made it a scarce commodity in many parts. This has led to numerous bore wells being dug in such places which at times left open has led to several causalities. This is the angle that Gopi Nainar explored with his "Aramm" that had hit the screens this weekend.


Madhivadhani IAS (Nayanthara) is the district collector of a coastal region in TN that is reeling under severe water crisis. She was called in for inquiry by her superior over her handling of a rescue mission that had ruffled the feathers of the political clan & potentially endangered the life of a child. The rescue mission was for a little girl, Dhansika (Mahalakshmi) who had fallen into an abandoned bore well that was left open by irresponsible contractors. Her father, Yugendran (Ramachandran Durairaj) was a painter who struggled to make their ends meet while his wife Sumathi (Sunu Lakshmi) did her bit with some odd jobs as well. Apart from Dhansika, they also had a son named Muthu (Ramesh) who aspired to be a swimming champion. On the ill-fated day, she fell into the bore well as she was playing with other kids & Madhivadhani swings into action. However, despite being the collector she realised that she was trying to make things work in a system where most of the people in power were corrupt. Amidst all this hungama, the no-nonsense female tried her best to rescue the girl but it was easier said than done.

Directed by the debutant, Gopi Nainar, it is a realistic take on the plight of the poor who gets shoved around by the rich & powerful. It's a fact that irrespective of whoever is in power, the benefits rarely percolates to the lower economic strata of society. We have been pushing our boundaries with our successful space missions which is definitely essential, but what's the point if you cant provide the basic necessities to all your citizens. All of this has been effectively highlighted by Gopi, who had penned the script as well against the backdrop of a rescue mission. Actually Bharathan's "Malootty" in Malayalam is also about a similar incident. The visuals by Om Prakash were exquisite while the other aspects were fine as well.

Nayanthara was brilliant as the empathetic & straight forward district collector. She just emphasised the fact that she is indeed the 'Lady Superstar', whether the role is glamorous or not. Each of the other artists have done their part well be it Ramachandran, Sunu, Mahalakshmi or Ramesh. 

Verdict: A socio-political drama which is relevant to our times with a thriller weaved into the plot will interest the audience for sure. It is likely to be a winner at the box-office as positive word of mouth should work in its favour. In short, check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, November 13, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle review: "Engaging rom-com showcased over a road trip!!!"

Over the years we have had numerous Malayalam movies being remade in Hindi which has fared satisfactorily at the box-office. However, not many technicians from the Malayalam industry has been able to make a mark in Bollywood except for a few like Priyadarshan, Sabu Cyril etc. It's even tougher for an artist to break into Bollywood, which is the reason why very few appear in more than a single movie. In recent times, Padmapriya appeared in "Chef" & this week we have Parvathy in Tanuja Chandra's "Qarib Qarib Singlle" along with the dependable Irrfan Khan. To be frank, they did seem like an odd couple at first glance & it remains to be seen whether their combination will endear to the audience???


Jaya (Parvathy) is a widow who has been single for quite a while that her friends tells her that she must have turned virgin. She was rather unsure as to whether she wanted to be in a relationship again but decided to give it a try courtesy through an online dating site. This led to her meeting up with Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a rather loud, instinctive, no holds barred type of character who considered himself a worthy Urdu poet. In simple words, their personalities were pretty much like chalk & cheese. As expected, Jaya wasnt keen to take it beyond their first meeting but Yogi's charm & her urge to meet his exes whom he claimed still loved him, makes her embark on a journey with him. Little did they realise that it was a journey towards their self discovery.

Tanuja Chandra is a well known director who has been off the radar for quite a while. However, mention of movies like "Dushman" & "Sangharsh" gives us ample proof about her capabilities. Her latest venture is about two charmingly different mature individuals finding each other in the premise of a road trip. Over the course of their trip from Hardwar to Jaipur & finally to Gangtok, we are hooked onto the manner in which their equation with each other changes. Kudos for that goes to the script by Tanuja's mother. Kamna who has movies like "Chandni" ,"1942-A Love Story" etc to her credit. Equally impressive was the screenplay & dialogues by Ghazal Dhaliwal. With regard to other technical aspects, all of them were fine especially the music by Rochak Kohli & Vishal Mishra which was soothing to the ears & didnt impede the flow of the movie. 

As usual, Irrfan was brilliant as the loud Yogi coz in the hands of a lesser artist; it would have come across as rather artificial & superficial. This makes it really difficult for his co-star to match upto him, but Parvathy (whose acting credentials in Malayalam & Tamil speaks volumes about her) matched him step to step in pretty much all the sequences. As for the rest, they have done their parts aptly in their brief screen space they were allotted.

Verdict: It is undoubtedly one of the finest rom-coms in recent times as the characters endears to the audience. An impressive script & odd looking couple enacted by brilliant performers, makes it a winner for ones who loves normal relatable movies. It is not a money spinning mass flick but you can rest assured you will be entertained. In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok review: "Both the audience & producers will be in splits!!!"

Just a fortnight more before the much awaited "Justice League" hits the screens, but before DC could make their move; Marvel has come out with the sequel of the "Thor" series. This is the 17th movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe & as per the weekend collection reports, it has taken the box-office by storm. To be frank, I have been so engrossed in the build up towards "Justice League", that the Marvel trailer didnt quite blow my socks off. However, when I checked it out; I have to admit it was indeed the most hilarious Marvel movie to date.


A couple of years have passed since the battle of Sokovia & Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was imprisoned by the fire demon, Surtur in Asgard. The God of Thunder manages to escape from the clutches of Surtur, who claimed that Asgard will be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarok when his crown was put into the Eternal Fire. Thor averts the impending doom (or so he believed) & goes in search of his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Based on what Surtur had said & with the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they locate their father on Earth. It is then Odin reveals to his sons, that he is dying which in turn will lead to the rise of his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett). She had fought shoulder to shoulder with him on various conquests but her evil designs made him imprison her. As he predicted, his demise releases Hela from prison & she lands in Asgard to claim the throne. Both Thor & Loki are forced to flee from there as their efforts to stop her proved futile & they end up on the planet Sakaar where the former gets imprisoned by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). How Thor escapes from there & forms a team along the lines of Avengers, to rescue Asgard forms the crux of the story.

As in the case of the prequels, the latest edition of "Thor" is directed by yet another individual, who happens to be Taika Waititi. The Kiwi is known for his horror comedy "What we do in the Shadows" (which I havent watched) & has brought that humorous streak to this venture. It turned out to be the USP of the movie as the screenplay by Eric Pearson was hilarious from the start to the end. The general mood of the movie was along the lines of "Deadpool" & it would be fair to say that it would totally entertain the audience. In terms of the plot, it's pretty engaging though the highlight definitely is the interactions between the characters such as Thor, Hulk etc. All the technical aspects were top notch & each and every individual in charge deserves praise.

Chris Hemsworth was awesome as he embraced the humour element with ease & gives a smashing performance. His partner in crime, Mark Ruffalo aced his part as Taika utilised him effectively by giving us ample exposure to both Banner & Hulk. Tom Hiddleston was rather underused, though in the opportunity provided he has done justice. Cate Blanchett was a natural for the role while Jeff Goldblum rocked as the Grandmaster. Among others, Tessa Thompson was fine while Taika's portrayal of Korg was a scream.

Verdict: There are no two words about it, except that it is an absolute entertainer. The plot as such might not seem too heavy. but when you have a screenplay as engaging; there isnt much to complain. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4.25/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ittefaq review: "Sluggish early on but finishes impressively!!!"

November is here & this month boasts of some impressive movies lined up that I have been eagerly looking forward to for quite a while. Among them is "Ittefaq" which has hit the screens this weekend & has got Akshaye Khanna in the lead along with Siddharth Malhotra & Sonakshi Sinha. Interestingly, it is produced by SRK & Karan Johar among others; & from the looks of it, it seems like a stylized murder mystery. So will it do justice to the genre that it proclaims & give our money's worth???


The story unfolds on a rainy Mumbai night with the police hot on the heels of Vikram Sethi (Siddharth Malhotra), acclaimed writer based in Britain; for the suspected murder of his wife. He had flown down to Mumbai along with his wife for the launch of his second book, but before that event could materialize, his wife gets murdered in the hotel. Naturally Vikram was the prime suspect & that argument bore weight when he evade the polices. He eventually meets with an accident & seeks shelter in an upscale apartment which belonged to the lawyer, Shekhar & his wife, Maya (Sonakshi Sinha). Soon enough, the police tracks him down & discover Shekhar being murdered in the residence. The case was entrusted upon Inspector Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) & he had to solve both the murders in the span of three days. Even though, the initial circumstantial evidence painted Vikram to be the culprit; it wasnt exactly an open & shut case especially since both Vikram & Maya narrated different versions as to what transpired in the apartment. So were both the murders mere coincidence or was it connected??? 

The project has been helmed by debutant Abhay Chopra, who as some of you guys might have suspected belongs to the famed Chopra lineage. So it's quite natural for him to be influenced by his accomplished relatives which might be the reason why he had decided to remake Yash Chopra's (uncle) "Ittefaq" (1969). The basic premise is the same except for a couple of changes that Abhay has incorporated in the screenplay. Even though it has a running time of just 107 minutes, the early part is rather sluggish as the script fails to impart the urgency. However, the latter half picks up the pace & culminates in a predictable yet thrilling climax. Michal Luka's frames were exquisite while Nithin Baid's editing could have been crisper.

Akshaye Khanna was fantastic as the cop which he underplays it convincingly both in his body language & dialogue delivery. The same cant be said about the other two leads namely Siddharth & Sonakhi. The former looked rather unsure early on & lacked conviction, but from the second half onwards he was bang on in conveying his emotions. However, Sonakshi's role didnt quite have any variations which meant it was a rather one dimensional performance that wont make the audience connect.

Verdict: The genre & lack of huge stars, invariably means it will be a slow mover at the box office. Whatever it manages to garner will be solely based on whether the audience were hooked onto the murder mystery. Frankly speaking, it's a movie that deserves praise for the effort it has gone into it as it will surely interest the audience for large parts. In short, give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben 






Sunday, October 22, 2017

Secret Superstar review: "One of the finest portrayal of mother-daughter relationship!!!"

Whenever we talk about Aamir Khan movies, we invariably associate it to be a creation that breeds quality. This is exactly the reason why his movies which appears once in a couple of years are received with much fanfare & expectations across the globe. His last release was "Dangal" which smashed all Bollywood box office collection records. However, his latest release "Secret Superstar" which is bank rolled by his production house has him in a supporting role. The trailer & the music has been impressive and with Aamir involved in the project the expectations are nigh high.


Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim) is a 10th grade student with a passion for music who resided in Vadodara with her family. She dreamt of becoming a singer & with the talent that she possessed it wasnt a dream that was impossible to achieve. With a loving mother, Najma (Meher Vij) who constantly encouraged her & a doting younger brother, it felt like she had the freedom to pursue her dreams. But it was easier said than done, especially with an abusive father who lost his temper at the smallest of reasons & inflicted physical torture on his wife. Since her father detested her musical leanings, she decides to upload her music videos on Youtube under the name "Secret Superstar" as she was clad in a burqa so that her identity remained unknown. In due time, her videos became viral & she received offers from the music industry to become a playback singer. But will she have the courage to reveal her identity lest her father knows about it???

This is the directorial debut of Advait Chandan after having served assistant for projects like "Dhobi Ghat" etc. He had taken on the responsibility of penning the script as well which focused on the bond between mother & daughter against the backdrop of dreams & domestic abuse. Despite the presence of a huge star like Aamir Khan, the director made sure that the focus is on Zaira & how along with Meher they tide over the challenges in their lives. Almost all the tracks by Amit Trivedi was in sync with the proceedings & didnt seem like a sore thumb at any point, with "Nachdi Phira" rendered by Meghna Mishra being my personal favourite. Equally praise worthy were the lyrics by Kausar Munir while Anil Mehta's visuals were fine as well.

Both Meher Vij & Zaira Wasim were equally brilliant & it would be hard to choose between the two. They have done utmost justice to their roles as their performance endears to our heart. They were adequately supported by Raj Arjun as Insia's father while Tirth Sharma (as Chintan) & Kabir Sajid (as Guddu) were excellent. Last but not the least, what do I say about Aamir Khan??? This guy is an absolute legend & brings his A-game whatever might be the role that he takes up. He was fantastic as Shakti Kumar, the arrogant lecherous conceited yet harmless music director with a heart of gold. 

Verdict: This is undoubtedly one of the finest movies that had been picturised on the bond shared between a mother & daughter. It might not take the box-office by storm as it is not a flashy entertainer. The protagonist's path towards stardom might seem a tad too easy but you can rest assured that the screenplay will moisten your eyes & also bring a smile to your lips. In short dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mersal review: "Entertaining mass masala despite the lag & cliched plot!!!"

One of the most eagerly awaited Tamil movie of the year is here & it belongs to none other than Thalapathy (seems like he has graduated) Vijay. As expected, the bombastic release of "Mersal" happened on Diwali giving the public an additional option to celebrate the festival of lights. Ever since the trailer was released, the fans were swooning over it & to add to the excitement, AR Rahman had created some peppy numbers which has become chart busters. Seems like Atlee knows the pulse of the audience & has presented Thalapathy in all his glory. But will the story-line be worthwhile or be just run-of-the mill type???


Keeping with the tradition of mass masalas, the film unfolds with Dr. Maaran (Vijay) being arrested by Officer Ratnavel (Satyaraj) in connection to the abduction of certain hospital staffs. It was all the more surprising as Maaran popularly known as the "5 Rs doctor" was the darling of the masses for his humanitarian service which in turn bestowed him with prestigious awards. So why would he do something like this??? To add further twist to proceedings, the interrogation throws light on the fact that he was a renowned magician as well. But his last performance in Paris had led to the death of a Chennai based doctor Arjun Zachariah (Hareesh Peradi), on the back of an act that went horribly wrong. Ironically, both of them had a verbal spar early on when he had turned down Dr. Arjun's offer to join his hospital. So was his death indeed an accident & if it wasnt, why did he do it???

This was Atlee's second film in a row with Vijay, with his previous directorial venture being "Theri". He had written the script along with Ramana Girivasan & the core subject that it deals with is the corruption in the medical profession. In addition, he had also taken the services of K V Vijayendra Prasad of "Baahubali" fame for the screenplay & there are a couple of sequences that reminds us of it. Atlee has added the necessary ingredients & packaged it in such a manner that it maximized the star appeal of Vijay. Since he had assisted Shankar in a couple of projects, it was interesting to observe his influence such as the intro scene of Rajni in "Shivaji". It is a typical mass entertainer that moves along a decent pace in the first half & lags quite a bit in the second half. On the technical side, the film is just brilliant be it the mesmerizing colourful visuals by  G K Vishnu or the scintillating BGM and tracks by Rahman. However, the same cant be said about Reuben who ought to have made the movie crisper 

Vijay is the heart & soul of the movie and he has rocked the screen with his energy & charisma. He has done a fine job as the magician while as the doctor, he didnt quite fit the bill. The role of the villain is entrusted upon S J Surya & he has done a decent job. There is a huge star cast in the movie but hardly any of them gets significant screen space except for Nitya Menon, who despite her weight looked fabulous & did utmost justice to her meaty role. There are others such as Kajal Aggarwal & Samatha Akkineni, whose presence made no sense at all apart just lengthen the run time. Vadivelu & Satyaraj is present throughout but didnt get to do much while Kovai Sarala was a torture the brief period she featured. 

Verdict: It has already set records in many parts of the world with an earth shattering initial. Despite the evident lag, "over the top" stunt sequences & cliched revenge plot, it still manages to entertain the audience. These kind of movies needs to be watched solely for the entertainment value & in that aspect it was spot on. In short, an apt movie for the festive season!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Newton review: "Clash between idealism & realism makes it an apt choice for Oscar!!!"

Diwali, the festival of lights is here & the film industry will be hoping to make hay when the sun shines with the release of big banner movies across the length & breadth of the country. Hence there werent any significant releases last weekend & the only programmes on Tv that caught my fancy was the Shanghai Masters & the Celebrity Classico. It was then that I recollected an article about a fortnight back which mentioned "Newton" as India's entry for the Oscars. Even though it's been a while since it released, I thought to write about it as I am sure many of my friends wouldn't have watched it.


Newton aka Nutan Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is a green horned government clerk who wore his honesty as a badge of honour. He was assigned the position of presiding officer entrusted with the task of conducting elections in one of the polling station located in the jungle of Chattisgarh. As it was in the Naxal hotbed region, it was always going to be a uphill task that Newton soon realised much to his dismay. Neither did the natives had any clue about the candidates or the election procedure nor were they keen to vote as they feared backlash from the Naxalites. Even the security force led by Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) didnt seem so enthusiastic with the idea of election though he made arrangements for Newton & his team. In such adverse circumstances, was it even possible to conduct a fair & free election???

Directed by Amit Masurkar, "Newton" is a political satire that has been making headlines in the last couple of months bagging awards at Berlinale 2017 & Hong Kong International Film Festival. It is his second venture after Sulemani Keeda which by the way I havent watched. Apart from direction, he had also penned the script while Mayank Tewari had assisted him in the screenplay. It was liberally sprinkled with humour but not at the cost of trivializing or mocking the realities . The main thread is the question whether the democratic process of election that we are all proud of is actually as fair as we believe it be. It throws light on the plight on tribals & downtrodden who dont see any change in their lives irrespective of whoever comes to power as they are virtually shoved around by the Naxalites & the security forces. Kudos to Masurkar for the brilliant casting which has enhanced the overall impact. 

We never associate music which such type of movies but both the tracks by Rachita Arora were soulful with the lyrics by Irshad Kamil & Varun Grover deserving praise. Even though it runs for just 106 minutes, some portions does lag quite a bit that Shweta Mathew ought to have taken care of. As far as performances are concerned, Rajkummar Rao continues to blow us away with his acting skills. Whatever might be the role, this dude just brings his A game to the table each & every time. Equally praise worthy were the performances by Pankaj Tripathi (who is on a roll this year), Anjali Patil, Raghubir Yadav & Sanjay Mishra.

Verdict: Being a low budget movie, it has already reaped profits at the box office. But it deserves to been seen by even more people as it is an eye opener to the election process in conflict regions. It might be a tad slow for quite a few especially in the latter half but you can rest assured that it is definitely worth the time spent. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben