Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sanju review: "Flawed protagonist enacted by a flawless Ranbir!!!"

It's a well known fact that it is no mean task to perform when one is burdened by the weight of expectations. We have numerous examples of individuals/teams failing to give their best performances due to the pressure that mounts on them. The film industry & the sports arena are perfect examples for that where we have the children of superstars, struggling to make their mark. One such personality is Sanjay Dutt, who though made it big went through quite a turmoil in his life courtesy of the horrible choices he made to live upto the legacy that was bestowed on him. So when Rajkumar Hirani announced his decision to make a biopic on him titled "Sanju", the expectations & hype were understandably much more than any other movie. But will it be an unbiased take on the superstar's life or something just to glorify him???


The film unfolds with Sanju being sentenced by the Bombay High Court for five years of imprisonment under TADA. With the media weaving malicious and outrageous fake tales about him, he decides to seek the services of a biographer who could tell his side of the story to the public. Eventually, his wife Manyata (Dia Mirza) approaches Winnie Diaz, a much sought after biographer to pen Sanju's version. Though reluctant initially, she agrees to take up the challenge after she came to realize that he was indeed a much misunderstood individual & nothing like what the media had portrayed him as. So who was the real Sanju & how much truth was there in the image that media had created of him???

Among the numerous Bollywood directors, Rajkumar Hirani is undoubtedly my favourite as I am a huge fan of his brand of film-making which is a concoction of drama, humour & sentiments. The template remains the same here as well with Hirani having scripted it along with Abhijat Joshi. It's surely an engaging tale which focuses on two main incidents in Sanju's life such as his addiction & arms case. However, being a biopic we naturally expect a much more detailed depiction of events but it doesnt happen so & there are numerous incidents that barely gets a mention such as his first wife, child, career etc. On the technical side, pretty much everything was from the top drawer be it the music by Sanjay Wandrekar & Atul Raninga; the make up dept as Ranbir pretty much looked like Sanju in many sequences etc.

Ranbir Kapoor is beyond doubt one of the finest actors in Bollywood but even then I was skeptical when he was chosen to play Sanjay Dutt as he didnt seem anything like him. But Ranbir absolutely blew my mind with his body language, dialogue delivery & mannerisms as it seemed like Sanju himself was playing the role (especially the young long haired avatar). Equally impressive & at times, even better than Ranbir was Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh and I cant wait to watch more of his movies. Paresh Rawal rocks whichever role he takes up & it holds true here as well while Jim Sarbh also attracts attention. All the females have done their parts aptly be it Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Anushka Sharma & Manisha Koirala.

Verdict: As expected, the movie has done roaring business in its opening weekend with collections touching 120 C by Sunday. It also broke the highest single day collection held by "Baahubali 2" & seems poised to match the gargantuan collections garnered by other Hirani movies. It's an excellent biopic which is performed superlatively by Ranbir & well supported by the rest. In short, definitely check it out!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, June 18, 2018

Race 3 review: "Same old formula but with a bigger star & more ways to bust money!!!"

The eagerly anticipated World Cup is finally here & we have already witnessed a couple of high quality matches. With Eid ul Fitr also celebrated leading to the weekend, it has been an entertaining weekend. To add to the festivities, we have the customary Salman Khan movie hitting the screens & this time it happens to be "Race 3" which promises to be an all out action entertainer. So will it claim the numero uno spot in the box office just like how Federer achieved the No.1 ranking at Stuttgart???


Shamsher Singh (Anil Kapoor) was one of the leading arms & narcotics dealer in the world and ran his empire in the Middle East. He was assisted in his endeavours by his nephew Sikandar (Salman Khan) whom he trusted more than his own twin children, Sanjana (Daisy Shah) & Suraj (Saqib Saleem). This naturally makes them harbour bad blood towards Sikander & plots his downfall. However, Sikander were always a step ahead of them & kept them in check with the help of his trusted lieutenant, Yash (Bobby Deol). At around this juncture, Shamsher gets wind of a hard disk that contained sexual adventures of top Indian politicians & decides to blackmail them in exchange for favours to establish his empire in the country. However, the twins found it as an opportunity to eliminate Sikander. But it was much easier said than done.

Believe it or not, but it's been a decade since the "Race" franchise began with the director duo Abbas-Mustan having directed the first two installments. However, unlike the previous ventures; the latest movie has no connection with the others except for the title. It is helmed by Remo D'Souza, who in my opinion is an excellent choreographer but a mediocre director. For the audience who have followed the "Race" series, they will be aware that the basic template is a potpourri of style, glamour, double crossing & pulsating action sequences & that pattern is religiously maintained (or rather taken up a couple of notches) by Shiraz Ahmed. No one expects logic in such movies but even then it doesnt offer anything that captivates us. The action sequences choreographed by Tom Struthers (of "Inception", "Dark Knight" & "Dunkirk" fame, was top notch while Ayanika Bose deserves praise for the visuals but Salim Sulaiman's music was average.

It's an all out Salman movie & he has given the masses what they needed with a power packed action flick. Anil Kapoor is the only one who has survived from the beginning & has given an earnest performance. Bobby Deol makes a comeback from wilderness with a toned physique but seems like he forgot to flex his facial muscles. As for the rest, none of the performances deserves mention but kudos to Jacqueline & Daisy for the effort they invested in combat scenes. 

Verdict: Despite being panned by the critics, the movie galloped to the 100C club in just 3 days. With "Sanju", still a fortnight away, it should race itself to some mind boggling numbers. If you are in for some cool action sequences, then you wont be disappointed but dont expect an iota of logic. In short, it offers nothing new apart from exotic locations, fancy cars & Salman!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, June 11, 2018

Kaala review: "Ranjith's brilliance shines through as he utilizes Rajini, the actor & superstar in apt measure!!!"

Monsoon has hit the coast of India & it has unleashed its fury in various parts of the country. Hoping to create a similar impact on the box office is Pa Ranjith's "Kaala", one of the biggest release of the year. How often is the director of the movie that stars Rajinikant, the baap of superstars mentioned in the same breath??? Quite rare unless ofcourse the director is Shankar & hence it is credit to Ranjith's credentials that he has managed to achieve that so early in his career. So will the collections of this highly anticipated movie (for various reasons) be as eventful as Nadal's "La UnDecima"???


Mumbai, the financial capital of the country & one of the most expensive cities in the world is home to the rich and famous. Ironically, it also houses Dharavi, the biggest slum in the world with skyscrapers around it which is a stark reality of the economic divide among the citizens. It is here that the movie is based where a significant percentage of the population are Tamilians. Over the years, the gangster Hari Dhadha (Nana Patekar) had tried to wreck havoc in the area in the hope of seizing the land. Even after becoming the Union Minister, his aim remained the same though he presented it to the masses as government schemes which would change their lives for the better. However, all his efforts were thwarted by Kaala/Karikaalan (Rajini), the leader of Dharavi who saw through his devious plans. With power & money at his disposal, Hari Dhadha was hell bent on realizing his dream at any cost & what would it take for Kaala to stop him forms the crux of the movie. 

This is the second time that Ranjith had collaborated with the Superstar, with the previous "Kabali" giving us an idea about his directorial style. It was a commercial blockbuster, though it would be fair to admit that many werent quite satisfied in the manner that Thalaiva was portrayed. So naturally the responsibility to satiate the masses and critics alike in his latest venture had increased manifold. To be frank, the basic plot as such wasnt novel but the thought that has gone into many of the sequences deserves praise be it the colours used for the main characters, portraits in the background, his views on religion, gender etc. It had undoubtedly one of the finest climaxes that I have seen in a while. If at all there was a dampener, that was in the amount of time that it took to set pace in the first half. Most of  the technical aspects were top notch be it Murali G's visuals, art direction & Santhosh Narayanan's music with Kannamma being my personal favourite. 

In the performance department, first & foremost hats off to Ranjith for choosing Nana Patekar who as expected was mesmerising. The evil charm that Nana exuded was a delight to watch & that in turn elevated Rajini's performance. It's not so often that the legend manages to display his acting skills & that's what makes both "Kabali" & "Kaala" special. As Karikaalan, Rajini was brilliant & the scenes between him & Nana were the highlights. Equally brilliant were Easwari Rao & Anjali Patel, with the former's chemistry with the superstar making us yearn for more interactions between the two. As for the rest, Samuthirakani was fantastic, while Huma Qureshi & the actors who essayed the role of Rajini's son have done their parts aptly.

Verdict: As expected, it has set the box office on fire with 100 C being crossed in the global market in just 3 days. Records are expected to tumble as the movie is a mix of class & mass which will have most people sing praises about it. In short, dont miss it!!! (P.S: Aravind Akash's name in the movie was Shivaji Rao Gaekwad which happens to be Rajini's real name)

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran review: "Earnest effort though it lacks detail & intensity!!!"

Over the 70 odd years of Indian Independence, our nation have achieved numerous feats such as Green Revolution, White Revolution, ISRO's exploits etc. One such notable achievement was India's nuclear power capabilities which was accomplished on the back of the nuclear tests conducted in Pokhran in 1998. Apart from the fact it was a crowning moment for India, it is also one of the biggest failures of the CIA which had no clue about it despite the numerous satellites spying in the region. Though the events are well documented in print, Abhishek Sharma decided to re-create it on celluloid. So did he stick to the actual details or is it just merely fiction with an over dosage of patriotism???


It's 1995 & China has just conducted 43 nuclear tests which had sent our politicians into a frenzy due to the increasing might of its neighbours. Among the numerous nonsensical retaliation suggestions  that are floated at the PM's Office, Ashwat Raina (John Abraham), a IAS Officer proposes the idea that India also needs to conduct nuclear tests. His suggestion is met with ridicule & though the PM's secretary takes up the idea, Ashwat is sidelined & it reflects in the eventual planning as the nueclear test turned out to be a failure. As one would expect, Ashwat is made the scapegoat which breaks his confidence. However, three years later he gets a shot at redemption when Himanshu Malik, the new Principal Secretary to the PM puts him in charge of the nuclear mission. How Ashwat & his team accomplishes the task under the nose of the US spy satellites forms the crux of the movie.

Abhishek Sharma made quite a few look up & take notice of him with his debut venture "Tere Bin Laden" which released close to a decade back. However, "Parmanu" will be his first major movie in terms of budget & canvas on offer. Based on the Pokhran nuclear tests, masterminded by APJ & Co.; Abhishek in the company of Saiwyn Quadras & Sanyukta Chawla Sheikh (of "Neerja" & "Mary Kom" fame) has created a story that is more fictional than the actual truth. The whole mission seemed rather too simplistic though the tension built up towards the climax was credible. None of the technical aspects deserves a special mention as it average at best.

John Abraham has given a sincere effort & fitted the role of the protagonist. Boman Irani was impressive in his brief role while the rest of the cast were fine as well though I felt Diana Penty wasnt quite the right choice for her role.

Verdict: With not much competition in the first week, "Parmanu" was able to break even without breaking much sweat. However, with "Veere Di Wedding" having hit the screens this weekend; it remains to be seen how much more it will be able to collect. There is no doubt that the movie is decently crafted, but I felt it could have been more impactful. In short, you can give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mahanati review: "Engrossing biopic that makes one yearn to know more about the protagonist!!!"

With not much tempting flicks in the horizon, I havent been watching much movies in the past month or so. However, last weekend saw the release of the Telugu movie "Mahanati" which has been dubbed into Tamil & Malayalam as well. Incidentally, the reason why I decided to check it out was because it marked the debut of Dulquer Salmaan in Telugu. It also happened to be the biopic on Savithri, the first female superstar of the South Indian film industry. So was the film able to do justice to the stature of the legendary actress???


Madhuravani (Samantha Akkineni) who had completed journalism in flying colours was on the lookout for a meaty story that would boost her career. Her editor entrusted her with the task of covering the news on Savithri (Keerthy Suresh)who had been in coma for more than a year. Reluctantly she takes up the task but with time, she realizes that there was more to Savithri than being just a famous actress of her era.

The challenge of creating this biopic was taken up Nag Ashwin & without further ado, I would like to applaud him on a job well done. It was not a cakewalk by any stretch of imagination as it had to be engrossing, captivating & unbiased. Siddharth Sivasamy's screenplay was brilliant as it effectively weaved the various turmoils that Savithra went through into the plot & narrated it from a third person's perspective. The tragic love story between Gemini Ganesan & Savithri, her philanthropy, her incredible acting skills etc. all of which has been impressively captured by Ashwin. One of the main highlights of the movie for me was Mickey Meyer's fantastic music which took the celluloid creation to a whole different level. All the technical aspects were top notch be it Dani Sanchez's visuals, Kotagiri's editing, art direction etc. However, the CGI that was used to show NTR was downright pathetic.

Frankly speaking, I never believed Keerthy Suresh quite had the skills to pull off such a meaty role. But my word, she just blew my mind as she was marvelous & virtually lived as the protagonist. It would be fair to say that she looked very similar to Savithri in many sequences & she has used it to her advantage. In short, I expect her to to walk away with all the major awards next year. When it was announced that Dulquer will be essaying the role of Gemini Ganesan, I seriously had my doubts especially since he doesnt look anything like the legend. However, hats off to him for playing his part with elan & effortlessly showing the character's attitude. Samantha rocked in her role along with a host of others like Rajendra Prasad, Mohan Babu, Prakash Raj etc while Vijay Antony was average.

Verdict: As per the latest reports, it has grossed about 30 C at the box office over the past 10 days. It's definitely a brilliant movie & deserves an audience not only for Ashwin's making but for Keerthy's superlative performance as well. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War review: "Marvel emerges victorious for the infinite time!!!"

Finally the much awaited "Avengers: Infinity War" has hit the screens & as expected, the reception that it received was thunderous. It was a journey that began a decade back with "Iron Man" & after 18 movies which saw numerous solo superhero ventures, we have them join forces to battle Thanos, the mightiest villain to date. Most of the movies have been blockbusters & laid the foundation for future projects which in turn formed the framework for the Infinity War series. But the Russo brothers had a herculean task in front of them as they needed an engaging screenplay & ensure that all the characters were weaved into it effectively. So did they accomplish that???


Since there are quite a number of spoilers, I would try to keep the plot as brief as possible. If you have been a faithful follower of the Marvel movies, you would have noticed by now that Thanos has been on a mission to acquire the six infinity stones for a while. The purpose for doing so was to restore balance in the universe which was moving steadily towards self destruction due to over-population. After having acquired the Power Stone from Xandar, Thanos & his army intercepts the ship which contained the survivors from Asgard. Since the Space Stone was within the Tesseract, Thanos unleashes his fury on the Asgardians. So will Thor & Hulk be able to slither out of the spaceship & seek help before Thanos has his hands on yet another stone???

Some of the best movies in the Marvel Universe such as "Captain America: Winter Soldier & Civil War" are directed by the Russo brothers. Hence when it was announced that the brothers was at the helm for this 2 part series, I was naturally thrilled like the rest. To their credit, they have done a brilliant job in pretty much all aspects of the movie & a significant portion of this appreciation is due to the screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.. The highlight is undoubtedly the balance between emotional content & humour, with neither of them going overboard at any instance. However, it does have a couple of drawbacks as well. With a running time of 154 mins, the film lags quite a bit at certain portions. Similarly, quite a few of the characters especially the ones that remain on earth such as Black Panther, Black Widow etc barely had dialogues to mouth. Lastly, the manner in which the superheroes gets eliminated was rather abrupt & lacked the impact that we believed it would create.

In the performance department, a handful of them were top notch primarily coz they had the screen time to perform such as Robert Downey Fr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Tom Holland (Spiderman) & all the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy. A special word of mention for Josh Brolin (Thanos) who apart from voicing for the character have also done motion capture for it. Without a shadow of doubt, Thanos was quite intimidating & physically imposing which went a long way in establishing the fact that a whole army of superheroes is indeed required to stop him. 

Verdict: The film have already made a cracking start at the box office & has registered the second best collections of all time in the first two days of its run. Another major factor that will work in its favour is the positive word of mouth from all quarters. In short, the Infinity War has lived upto expectations for most parts & paved the path for the release of Captain Marvel & Ant-Man before the second part releases in just over a year's time. So dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hichki review: "Dont hichak to check out this endearing flick!!!"

In the past decade or so, a new genre that Bollywood directors seems to be interested in are movies where the protagonists are either physically challenged or suffering from genetic and neurological disorders.  Hence we had movies on dyslexia "Taare Zameen Par", Asperger's syndrome "My Name is Khan", progeria "Paa" etc., to name a few. The latest to be added to that list is Rani Mukerji's "Hichki" where she is suffering from Tourette's syndrome. So will the movie have am engaging story that will keep us hooked???


Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji) is a well qualified charming young lady who is passionate about becoming a teacher. However, all her efforts to get a job in her preferred profession failed as she suffered from Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder which made her interviewers skeptical of her ability to teach. After numerous failed attempts, she finally landed a job at the esteemed St. Notkers which also happened to be her alma mater. But she had a daunting task in front of her as she had to tame of class of unruly students. Will she rise upto the challenge or will she forced to opt for a different profession just like her father said???

Based on the book "Front of the Class" by Brad Cohen & Lisa Wysocky, "Hichki" is the second movie of Siddharth Malhotra after "We are Family" in 2010. There is no doubt that it is endearing & keeps us engaged despite the predictability. It does reminds us of flicks like "Dead Poets Society" among others & the lack of novelty in the events that unfold might be a deterrent at times. None of the technical aspects deserves special mention though Hitesh Sonik's music was fine. The heart & soul of the movie is undoubtedly Rani Mukerji, who is back on the silver screen after a hiatus with her last performance being "Mardaani" in 2014. She has done a praise worthy job & equally impressive (or at time even better than Rani) were the bunch of super talented kids. The rest of the cast such as Vikram Gokhale, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Hussain Dalal have also done their parts aptly.

Verdict: The film will surely have word of mouth in its favour & that is reflected in the box office collections as well. As per latest reports, it has accumulated a total of 22.5 C until yday making it a viable project for Yash Raj films due to the low investment. In short, dont hichak to watch Rani & her students!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben