Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fan review: "Even detractors wont mind being called his fans for this one!!!"

Amid much fanfare, the eagerly anticipated SRK starrer "Fan" finally hit the screens this weekend. With his IPL team, KKR off to a strong start this season; he would be hoping for a similar swing of fortune for his latest release as well after all "Dilwale" understandably fared below expectations. As always, SRK has gone all out for the movie's publicity with almost all channels training their cameras on him, though I felt it was much lesser this time around. The trailer received an overwhelming response from both the audience & industry alike with close to 4 million views on the first two days. Now it remains to be seen if it translates to footfalls at the theatres.


Aryan Khanna (SRK) is the reigning superstar of Bollywood & has millions of fans around the globe. Even Gaurav Chanda (SRK) was one among them except that his adulation for his idol bordered on obsession. He took pride from the fact that he was called "Junior Aryan" for the distinct similarity in their looks & also coz he always walked away with the best performer trophy courtesy of his tribute to the superstar in the annual competition at his colony. After having won the trophy yet again, he decides to dedicate it to his idol in person on his birthday & boards the train to Mumbai. But things doesnt quite pan out in the way that he had hoped for & when he does get to meet his idol, it was in a manner that he had least expected. 

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Maneesh Sharma is quite a well known name in the industry even though he has just 3 movies to his credit as a director with "Band Baaja Baaraat" being his debut venture. He is aided in his present project by Habib Faisal who had penned both the script & screenplay. The basic thread of the movie is the relationship between a star & his fan which goes sour to the extent that the fan becomes the greatest threat to his idol's existence. Though not a rip off, it did have a subtle similarity as far as the plot is concerned to Robert De Niro's "The Fan".  Anywaz the idea as such was intriguing & promised to be an edge of the seat thriller which Maneesh executed impressively as well in the first half. However, the manner in which the revenge was played out subsequently lacks sense & thought from both the crafters. The fan cant be called as a doppelganger as he doesnt quite confuse the people around him early on, but surprisingly that's exactly what happens in the second half as he fools his fans, friends, security & for some time, his wife as well (eh???). As for other aspects, I did like Andrea Guerras's BGM & the "Jabra Fan" track by Vishal-Shekhar which I saw on youtube (as the movie doesn't have any songs). The prosthetics & CGI used for Gaurav's character deserves praise but it lacked consistency.

Though the script did not quite satisfy me, I have no such complaints against Shahrukh who was damn awesome. If Gaurav once again showcased his ability to portray characters with negative shades with elan, then Aryan showed his courage to try something out of his comfort zone & take potshots at stardom (at times on himself also) be it his attitude to fans, employees, officials or even dancing at weddings. When we have SRK in double role that pretty much denies screen space to anyone else but even then performers like Yogendra Tiku, Deepika Amin & Sayani Gupta gets noticed for their credible support.

Verdict: The film should make it to the 150 C mark in due time, though since it isn't exactly a masala movie as it has no romance or songs, the bulk of the collections would have to come from the urban circuit & overseas. As far as my opinion goes, there are surely loopholes in the script but SRK has done a brilliant job which makes this movie worth watching for sure. In short, watch it for SRK!!!

Rating: 3/5


Regards...Ben

Theri review: "Likely to mutter malayalam theri in the latter half!!!"

It's the month of April & as per most of the regional calendars it marks the beginning of a new year. If it's Vishu for Kerala then it's known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu & whatever might be the state, the release of some big banner movies is considered as part of the festivities nowadays. This year we have Vijay gracing the screens with his latest venture "Theri" which created quite a buzz among the fans with its trailer. Though I didnt quite belong to that category, I was still curious to check it out.



Joseph Kuruvila (Vijay) is a doting father to his daughter Nivi (Baby Nainika) & leads a serene life in Kerala (really??? it seemed like some other place with Kerala registration vehicles motoring around) running a bakery. Life moves along at a leisurely pace until her daughter meets with an accident which opens a door to his past. His name was actually Vijaykumar & he was an IPS officer who struck fear in the heart of the wrong doers. However, his upright nature expectedly proved to be a headache for the corrupted big wigs who came up with devious plans to eliminate his threat. So will Vijay be able to stick onto his principles against a rival who has no qualms in stooping to any level???

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This big budget venture has been helmed by Atlee who had impressed one & all with his debut venture "Raja Rani". However, his latest effort is not going to score as many brownie points as the screenplay left a lot to be desired in the latter half. The movie builds up aptly with a concoction of humour, action, romance & sentiments until the interval. But from then on, the tale is as woeful & predictable as Pandya's bowling that we are left cringing in our seats & wishing Antony Ruben did a much better job with the editing.  Equally mediocre was the makeup for Samantha & the hideous wig used for Amy. However George Williams needs to be applauded for his praise worthy frames while the music by G V Prakash was average with the track "En Jeevan" rendered by Saindhavi & Hariharan being the standout one for me. 

Vijay has done a decent job as usual though it wasn't anything out of the ordinary as he reveled whenever humour was involved & lacked conviction in the emotional scenes. Baby Nainika was a delight as she oozed sweetness & innocence. Mahendran as the antagonist essayed his role with ease but was he as threatening as the character required??? Hmm...definitely not. Samantha has given a credible performance while Amy Jackson seemed like a misfit as a Keralite. As for the rest of the cast, Rajendran tickled the funny bone to good effect, Prabhu was wasted & Radhika went overboard at times.

Verdict: The film got a bombastic opening as expected with the movie racking in close to 28 C on the very first day itself. But it's likely to taper off much quickly than the makers would like it to after all the manner in which the second half proceeds doesnt inspire much hope. So in such a scenario they will find it be hard to make a profit considering they invested 100 C on it (did they??? you got to be kidding..coz it didnt seem so). In short, the choice is yours !!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Jungle Book review: "Relive your childhood joy in CGI!!!"

If I had to ask all those people who had grown up watching Doordarshan in the 1990s as to which was their favourite animation series, what do you think their answer would be??? Well I am kinda sure that most of their responses will be the same as mine as it would be "Jungle Book" even if many wouldn't have seen the animation movie released in 1967. So when I heard that Walt Disney Pictures was remaking the film with live CGI effects, I was naturally thrilled. The excitement further escalated when I saw the trailer, as it was jaw dropping realistic. Hopefully the film in itself is an extension of the magnificent trailer.


Well I dont think there is need to elaborate on the plot as there would be hardly anyone who hasn't read Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" or atleast watched the animation series. Anywaz Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a boy who was raised by the wolves Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) & Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) after he was brought to them as an infant by the black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). However, his life was in danger as the fearsome Bengal tiger Sher Khan (Idris Elba) had made his intentions clear. So he was left with no option but to leave the jungle before the tiger unleashed harm on his family. But little did he realize that Sher Khan wasn't the sole problem that lay in front of him. 

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Frankly speaking, I knew Jon Favreau as an actor but wasn't aware that he had decent directorial credentials as well until I checked wikipedia & saw movies like "Elf", "Iron Man 1 & 2" etc to his credit. He has done a wonderful job in re-creating this timeless classic taking advantage of all the latest advancements in technology available on offer. The screenplay by Justin Marks was more or less true to the original with a couple of changes towards the climax. At just over 1.5 h, the movie is an absolute visual treat & the credit for that goes to Bill Pope's cinematography as well as Mark Livolsi's editing. Apart from this, the one thing which had mesmerized me was John Debney's music be it "The Bare Necessities" included in the movie & also the tracks "I Wanna be Like you" & "Trust In Me" which appear in the end credits.

There was an extensive audition for the role of the protagonist before Neel Sethi was zeroed in & it was well worth the effort as he was wonderful exuding innocence & vulnerability along with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Even though the only character which appears in flesh & blood in the movie is Neel, Favreau needs to be applauded for his apt choice of brilliant artists to do the voice over for the CGI generated characters. Bill Murray as Baloo was my personal favourite for his wise cracking jokes while Ben Kingsley & Lupita was impressive as well. Idris Elba was able to convey the sinisterness convincingly while Scarlett Johansson as Kaa was fantastic & you guys need to stay back to check out her excellent rendition of "Trust in Me" in the end. 

Verdict: It's an absolute visual treat & in all likelihood going to rake in some serious ground breaking box office collections. The makers have enlisted the services of Om Puri, Nana Patekar, Priyanka Chopra etc for the Hindi version which will further increase the collection from the Indian subcontinent, not to mention it is released here a week prior to the US market. In short, if you have been a fan of the animation series, you can rest assured you would love this movie!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice review: "Justice denied to the audience!!!"

It's almost been a week since the eagerly anticipated "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" have hit the screens. As it had released on the holy weekend, I wasn't able to check it out & by the time, I decided to do so I was put off by feedback that I had received from my friends. However, on the behest of a couple of them I decided to watch it & pen down as to what I felt about it. So were the predominantly negative reviews that the movie had garnered justified???



The film unfolds from the climax of "Man of Steel" where Superman (Henry Cavill) battles with General Zod to leave behind a trail of destruction which also included Wayne's enterprises. Over time, Superman proves to be a saviour to thousands in numerous occasions but that doesnt suppress a gradual increase in the number of voices that held him responsible for the collateral damage on the aftermath of his conquests. Even Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) saw him as a threat to the planet & felt that he needed to be reined in before it was too late. In the meantime, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who was also plotting the downfall of Superman comes to realise from his research that the invincible could actually be fallen with the help of kryptonite which he smuggles into the country. But before he could set his plan into motion, Batman steals it from him & prepares for battle against Superman. However, little did they realise that all of this was part of the masterplan of Lex Luthor who still had a couple of aces up his sleeve.

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Zack Snyder started his career as a director about a decade back with "Dawn of the Dead" but what actually propelled him to the limelight was "300". Actually I loved that movie & since then I have been keeping a keen eye on his movies. His previous venture "Man of Steel" which had released a couple of years back was a blockbuster & I personally felt that it was the best way to reboot the Superman series. So ever since news of "Batman vs Superman" being filmed came in, I was one among the millions who waited for its release with bated breaths. Unfortunately, it didnt turn out to be half as good as I hoped thanks to a mediocre script by Chris Terrio & David Goyer. The film starts off with a bang with adequate ground work done for the future Justice League series & it progressively builds up the tempo for an awesome showdown between the superheroes. However, the much hyped "greatest gladiator match ever" barely took off & the manner in which it ended reminded me of some corny Bollywood lines. Eventually, the overdosage of CGI in the form of Doomsday might not have exactly excited the audience but the entry of Wonder Woman into the battle spices up the whole sequence. In the technical department, Larry Fong's visuals was fantastic while Zimmer's music didnt quite have the effect that we know him for. With the script & CGI not as captivating as expected, David Brenner should have been more judicious with the editing. Even Batman's suit & other Bat gadgets werent as enchanting as Nolan's series.

Coming to performances, Henry Cavill reprised his role as Superman but unlike "Man of Steel" the screenplay over here meant he barely had any opportunity to do anything else apart from scowl. When Ben Affleck was casted as Batman, I was kinda sceptical as to whether he would be as good as Christian Bale but I have to admit that he was perfect for the role. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was brilliant that I felt that she ought to have been given more screen space. But the same cant be said about Jesse Eisenberg who was neither physically imposing nor able to impart an threatening feel that we would associate with a villain. He seemed more like trying to copy Heath Ledger's Joker but fails miserably in all accounts. A plethora of other characters & superheroes also appear in the movie, but I dont think that necessarily needs to be mentioned here.

Verdict: Owing to the hype, it garnered an earth shattering initial but as per latest box office reports it's registering a steady decline in collections. I am definitely not surprised by this as the script failed to do justice to a set of characters which had immense potential to challenge the Marvel universe. Anywaz the fact is DC will still have to wait for some more time before they can usurp Marvel's popularity among the audience. In short, it's definitely worth a watch but dont have your hopes high!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben




Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ki & Ka review: "Not as appealing as the title!!!"

After a rather dodgy World Cup, India was finally ousted in the semis by the Windies . Though I am really proud that our team was among the final four, there was still a lingering sadness that we couldn't proceed further. Anywaz what better way to shake off the dejection than with a movie & that's when I realised that "Ki & Ka" is hitting the screens this weekend. The trailer was quite explicit as it was about a stay home husband which is not an explored premise in Bollywood. So will it be able to break new ground or be reduced to being stereotypical???



Kia (Kareena Kapoor) is a successful marketing manager who is fiercely focused in her career & had a clear idea as to what she wants to become in due time. During one of her business tours, she gets acquainted with Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) who inspite of being a MBA topper & from an affluent lineage was diametrically opposite to what she was. Kabir wanted to be like his mom by being a stay home partner as he believed that a male could be as effective as a female in ensuring a strong family system. After a couple of dates, the two decides to take their relationship to the next level & ties the knot. Things proceed smoothly as both of them comfortably settles into the roles that they had aspired for until ego wedges in as one of them hogs the limelight much to the displeasure of the other. So can they settle their differences or was this intention of being a stay home husband in our society (whether we like it or not is still predominantly patriarchal) a rather impractical idea???

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R Balki is a well known director not only for his distinct scripts but also for the unique titles that he comes up for his movies starting from "Cheeni Kum" to his latest venture "Ki & Ka". Now coming to the storyline as such, though it is not something which has been observed in Bollywood, the idea of males taking an equal share of the domestic responsibilities is very much vogue in many of our lives. It isn't just about giving sermons about female equality but personally speaking I feel females should also become independent & for that to happen the male gender will have to pitch in equally in all aspects of a marital relationship. However, Balki falters in executing his ideas effectively & it comes across being like a caricature as the movie turns out to be nothing more than a role reversal where the guy behaves like the girl (including the "mangalsutra" on his wrist for a change). The conflicts between the two in the latter half is believable but overall it wont blow our socks off. All the technical aspects seemed fine though it doesn't deserve special mention.

When I had seen the trailer for the first time, the combination of Kareena & Arjun didnt seem quite appealing to me. But after watching it, I would say that they were indeed aptly casted. It's been quite a while since we have seen Kareena in a credible role & she has essayed her part convincingly as the career oriented professional. The same also has to be said about Arjun who was both charming & endearing in a role which I am sure many actors wouldn't have taken up at first glance. Both Swaroop Sampat & Rajit Kapur were adequate in their roles while the cameo by Big B & Jaya Bachchan was pretty good.

Verdict: Since it doesn't belong to the category of being a mass movie, it wont have a fantastic initial but it would still appeal to the target audience & should be a safe bet for the producers. It's unique from a movie point of view but Balki wasn't able to execute it as effectively. In short, maybe you can give it a try if you have time!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben