Monday, October 31, 2016

Kaashmora review: "Karthi rocks even as the horror comedy tests our patience!!!"

Diwali is here & it's that time of the year when the Tamil film industry goes into overdrive mode hoping to cash in on the festive mood. This year, the big ticket movie apart from "Kodi" that has graced the screen on the festival of lights is "Kaashmora". Directed by Gokul, this Karthi starrer had created interest in the public coz of the catchy promos which showed Karthi in two avatars that was as distinct as chalk & cheese. In one of the interviews, Gokul had mentioned it was more of a comedy movie with elements of fantasy added onto it. So was the director able to convey his vision effectively to the audience???


Kaashmora (Karthi), a fradulent exorcist along with his family made a living duping people in the name of dark spirits. As Kaashmora's fame travelled far & wide, he is approached by a corrupt & superstitious minister (Sharath Lohitashwa) to help him tide over the trying times that might come in his path. At around the same time, a man comes to seek Kaashmora's help to cleanse a haunted bungalow in Andhra. Little did he realise that he was going to confront a real ghost who wouldn't stop at anything to reach the spiritual world. 

As mentioned earlier, the project is helmed by Gokul who is said to have impressed the audience with his previous venture "Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara". Since I havent watched that, I dont have a point of reference with regard to his caliber which is a positive thing. The first half of the movie didn't have much substance apart from the gimmicks that Kaashmora's family employed to hoodwink the public which does give rise to some genuine hilarious moments. In the second half, we are introduced to the actual purpose of the movie & that's where it does manage to arrest our attention as it had a faint resemblance to "Baahubali" with Raj Nayak (Karthi) looking more like a cruel Katappa. Frankly speaking, the humour failed to produce the desired effect & the running time of close to 3 h doesn't help the cause as the audience wont be able to resist yawning. On the technical side, Om Prakash & Rajeevan deserves a pat on the back for a job well done as they had handled the cinematography & art direction respectively. Santhosh Narayanan's BGM was fine but I cant say the same about his music.

Karthi is the heart & soul of the movie and he has given a brilliant performance in both avatars. His portrayal of the evil warlord Raj Nayak was nothing short of spectacular & there is nothing between the two characters that makes you feel that it is done by the same person. So kudos to Karthi for that. Nayanthara rocked in the brief role with her elegance, poise & beauty while Vivek does manage to tickle the funny bone. As for the rest of the cast, they barely had anything to do.

Verdict: Being Diwali, the film is likely to make a killing at the box office & will emerge as Karthi's biggest hit. So the question naturally arises as to whether the movie is so good. Well Karthi was brilliant but the movie does bore for large parts until Raj Nayak & Nayan's part comes in. In short, the humour works but not for long, however the film is worth a watch for Karthi!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil review: "Will be mushkil for many to sit through the emotional drama!!!"

Soon after the Uri attacks where 19 of our brave soldiers lost their lives, they were calls to cut off all ties with Pakistan on all platforms which included Bollywood as well. Well I am not going to dispute the stance that was called for, but many from the film industry including Karan Johar came forward stating that it was not right to deny Pakistani artists from performing in the country. Frankly speaking, I dont believe many of them actually mean it as their eye is only on the money they can garner from the Pakistani market & one of the easiest way to do it is to include stars from there in the movie. This is exactly what KJo did with Fawad Alam in his latest movie "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil", the promos of which has caught the eye of the public. So was it the typical KJo movie with just glitz & glamour or was there more depth to it???


Based in London, Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) an aspiring singer & Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) meet up at a bar & try to make out but it turned up to be an absolute drab. However, they hit off famously to end up as close buddies in quick time after the break up with their respective partners. With time, Ayan started having feelings for her but Alizeh wasn't able to take their relation to the next level as she was still in love with Ali (Fawad Alam) who had broken her heart many years back. When she bumps into Ali in Paris, all those feelings gets rekindled which shatters Ayan. Will Alizeh ever able to reciprocate Ayan's unrequited love???

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It's been a while since KJo has called the shots as his previous release was "Student of the Year" in 2012. From the outset, it has all the ingredients of a typical Johar movie such as the uber lifestyle of the protagonists, foreign locales & great music. What sets this movie apart is the pull it exerts on the heart cords which feels realistic & genuine, thanks to the terrific leads. Even the dialogues by Johar oscillated from being witty & stupid to sentimental & philosophical which added a lot to the overall impact of the movie.  But where this movie falters is that it offers an undeniable sense of deja vu as it seems like a potpourri of "Tamasha" & "Rockstar". It also comes across way too emotional & brooding which might not be to the liking of a segment of the audience. On the technical side, everything was top notch be it Pritam's music (almost all the tracks were awesome, "Channa Mereya" & "Bulleya" were my favourites) or Anil Mehta's exquisite visuals.  

Both the leads were absolutely brilliant, that it's hard to say who has aced it; though I have to say Anushka Sharma surprised me with her confidence & attention to nuances. I couldnt possibly imagine anyone else apart from her as Alizeh. Ranbir Kapoor credentials as a phenomenal actor is well established & this role just reiterated the fact that he is indeed the best of his generation, though he intends to mess up with his choice of movies. Aishwarya Rai has done a decent job but her segment with Ranbir was the weakest in the movie. Fawad Alam barely had much to do while Lisa Haydon was spot on as the bimbette. As for the cameos by SRK & Alia Bhatt, it barely had any impact.

Verdict: KJo might had to bow down to the wishes of the MNS & even put up a message thanking soldiers (nothing more than a gimmick to be frank), but he will be laughing his way to the bank with the initial. It will have the multiplexes & overseas lapping it up, but single screens are unlikely to warm up to him. It should be a blockbuster in the long run as it's surely KJo's most intense movie to date & his lead pairs has just smashed it. In short, if you dont mind emotional drama then definitely go for it!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mirzya review: "Visual spectacle that fails to connect!!!"

October is upon us & it's time for the Puja holidays which is eagerly looked forward to by students & employees alike. This year, it so happened that the auspicious days fell on the first few working days which invariably meant a long weekend. Hoping to cash in on the extended holidays is Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's "Mirzya" that had the tinsel town gushing over the making of the movie & the performances of the lead pair. Well it wasn't surprising after all you wouldn't possibly expect them to say anything negative about Harshvardhan Kapoor, son of Anil Kapoor who was making his debut in a movie which was being crafted by some of the best technicians. There is no doubt that the frames shown in the trailer was awe-inspiring & with Gulzar having written the script; the expectations of it being a classic was nigh high. So did it deliver what it promised???


The film opens with a warrior winning an archery competition with the prize being the hand of the princess. However, it didnt seem to impress the other members of the clan & they make it amply clear with their hostile demeanor. The warrior wasn't disturbed by the events that unfolded & elopes with the princess in the dark much to the chagrin of the others who follows in pursuit. In an alternate time period, which happens to be the present day; Munish & Suchi are inseparable friends who always looked out for each other. But when Suchi gets reprimanded at school when she tried to cover up for Munshi who had forgotten his assignment, little did they realize that the subsequent events that unfolded would change their lives forever. 

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Rakeysh Omprakash is a director who needs no introduction especially with movies like "Rang De Basanti" & "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" to his credit. In "Mirzya", he has been honoured with the services of renowned lyricist Gulzar who has penned the script with the legendary tale of Mirza Sahiban being the basic idea behind the thread. The highlight of the movie is undoubtedly the magnificent visuals by the Polish cinematographer, Pawel Dyllus who has captured the Leh-Ladakh landscape & the Rajashthani deserts in such a manner that it will leave us spell bound. Equally impressive was the soundtrack by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy which blends with the mood of the movie & elevates the experience especially in the warrior sequences. But there is a limit as to how much technical brilliance can help if it doesnt have a tale that connects with the audience & that's exactly the problem here. The format which is followed is pretty much similar to "Rang De Basanti", where we have two similar stories running parallel to each other in different time periods. While in "RDB", we root for the protagonists, over here we are more bothered as to when we can relieve ourselves from the boredom gifted by the movie.

Harshvardhan Kapoor looked awesome as the warrior but he didnt quite suit the character of Munish as he failed to convey the rawness & ruggedness that was evident in his appearance. Even Saiyami Kher didnt impress me with her histrionics or dialogue delivery. If at all there was someone who deserves a mention, then it has to be Anjali Patel while all the rest were either average or mediocre. 

Verdict: Apart from technical brilliance, there is hardly anything in the movie which makes it worth watching. The movie will have to depend solely on the multiplex audience for its investment but even they are likely to stay away due to the incoherent script. In short, dont bother!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben




Sunday, October 2, 2016

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story review: "Engaging though many aspects especially the lows remains untold!!!"

Cricket, the game which holds the nation together & which is like a religion in the sub-continent holds an unfair advantage in the region much to the chagrin of lovers of other sports. Being a sports buff, I pretty much follow most of the sports with unbridled enthusiasm but Cricket remains my favourite though I admit we need to give as much support & respect to Champs of other sports. It might seem like an absolute waste of time with hardly anything happening for long periods of time to many of the detractors. But once you love the game, even Tests can be engrossing; maybe check out the Kolkata Test which has Kiwis on the ropes & you will understand what I mean. Over the years, we had many legends in the game & one name which will be added to that list by the time he hangs his boots will be our Captain Cool aka M S Dhoni. In recent times, we had a couple of biopics on sports icons such as Milkha, Mary Kom, Azhar etc . So when a biopic on MS was announced & that too by the talented Neeraj Pandey, I was eagerly waiting to check it out. Will it be able to give an insight on how Captain Cool thinks & handles the challenging situations???


As it is well known to most of the cricket lovers, MS hails from Ranchi & the movie is about his journey from that small town to the pinnacle of Indian cricket. Dhoni was the goalkeeper of his school & during one of the practise sessions , he catches the eyes of the school's cricketing coach, Bannerjee (Rajesh Sharma) who sees his potential as a wicket-keeper & coaxes him into taking up the game. His father, Pan Singh Dhoni (Anupam Kher) was the pump operator in MECON who just like any other father wanted his son to concentrate on his studies as he believed sports cannot become a form of reliable livelihood. However his sister Jayanti Gupta (Bhumika Chawla), mother & close buddies supported his passion for cricket. In due time, his exploits with the bat becomes known far & wide.But his promotion to the Indian team was still a distant dream. How he makes that big leap from Ranji to the most successful Indian Captain forms the subsequent portions of the movie.


Neeraj Pandey is a director who needs no introduction courtesy of his excellent movies "A Wednesday", "Special 26" & "Baby". Even his latest venture, he has done utmost justice as it emotionally connects with the audience due to the authenticity it imparts in its execution. The first half was fantastic as it captures the struggles of MS extremely well & also the influence of his friends & family who does whatever is possible from their side to support his growth as a player. But the second half was were the efforts of Neeraj Pandey & Dilip Jha as writers was disappointing as they chose to just eulogize the highs of Dhoni with absolutely no mention of the controversies be it IPL or equation with certain players with whom there is said to be animosity. Apart from a fleeting mention of the dropping of the seniors prior to the Commonwealth series in Australia, there is also no insight provided into what makes him Captain Cool in crunch situations or the dressing room interactions ; all of which was expected after all there was emphasis on the phrase "The Untold Story" in the title. Inspite of this, it's still a cracking movie which keeps us hooked till MS hoists that famous 6 into the stands & wins the World Cup. All the technical aspects were top notch be it Santhosh Thundiyil's visuals, the impressive CGI & catchy BGM. However, Shree Narayanan ought to have done a better job with the editing while the songs though fine proved to be speed breakers.

There is no doubt that the film has been well crafted but one of the prime reasons for that is the excellent performance of the artists who were aptly chosen,so kudos to the casting team for that. Sushant Singh was brilliant as MS in all aspects be it the calm restrained demeanor, his body language or typical Dhoni shots. As Dhoni said in one of the promotions, it seems Sushant is actually better than some of the Ranji players; I guess he is going to be the most sought after star in the next season of CCL. As for the rest, it is hard to pin-point as each one has done their part really well such as the ones who essayed the role of Dhoni's friends, Rajesh Sharma, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla etc. Among the female leads, Disha Patani was fantastic while Kiara Advani as Sakshi was fine.

Verdict: The film has all the makings of a blockbuster not to mention Captain Cool has one of the biggest fan following in the country. Neeraj has showcased the journey of MS extremely well though he chose to focus on only the high points of MS's career which was kinda disappointing. But there is no denying that the film is both engaging & inspirational at the same time making it an enjoyable experience for the audience.In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben