Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dangal review: "Mr. Perfectionist & his on-screen daughters nails this excellent sports drama!!!"

Christmas eve is upon us & what better way to celebrate it than being with our loved ones. As it is the season of giving, let each one of us do our bit to spread the message of love & brotherhood. Apart from the customary X'mas goodies, namely cakes, wine & spicy non-vegetarian dishes (started salivating??? well I did); it's bonanza time for movie buffs as all film industries will have some major release or the other. The biggest release this year is undoubtedly, Aamir Khan's "Dangal", whose trailer was fantastic which has taken the expectations through the roof. So will Aamir who usually turns up as Santa bring smiles to the audience & makers alike with yet another blockbuster???


An Aamir Khan movie is a huge occasion in itself due to his sporadic releases which always lives upto expectations. Due to this, the media scrutiny is immense courtesy of which many of you would already be having an idea that this movie is the biographical depiction of former National wrestling Champion Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) who trained both his daughters, Geeta (Fatima Sana (older) & Zaira Wasim) & Babita (Sanya Malhotra (older) & Suhani Bhatnagar) to become Commonwealth Champions. Mahavir had to give up wrestling in his prime to support his family but always harboured hopes that he would live his dream through his unborn son. But as fate would have it, he was blessed with only daughters. As wrestling was predominantly a male dominated sport, Mahavir presumed his dream would remain a dream until he decides to train his daughters. How Mahavir makes his dream into reality against all odds forms the crux of the movie. It was much tougher than one could expect since the mindset of the Haryanvi community which has one of the worst child sex ratios is that the girl child is not entitled to do anything apart from household chores. 


The idea to this story came from Divya Rao who was part of Disney's creative team & which was then subsequently properly fleshed out by Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain & Nikhil Mehrotra. Nitesh Tiwari was given the responsibility of direction, which happened to be his third venture after "Chillar Party" & "Bhoothnath Returns". The screenplay is brilliant & it was equally well picturised by Nitesh which keeps the audience hooked to the movie. The first half is top notch as it is a proper concoction of humour, emotions, action & drama. Even the latter half is good though mid way through it gets a tad too repetitive with the wrestling sequences but the gripping conflict between father-daughter & goosebump evoking climax more than makes up for the lag. 

Cast with the original characters
All the wrestling matches were brilliantly choreographed by Kripashankar Bishnoi  & even people who had no idea about this sport would be adequately educated by the time they finish watching. So much so, I wont be surprised if more people would be interested to follow this sport the next time it is shown on TV. Pritam's BGM has helped the movie immensely & even his music was in sync with the mood especially the title track rendered by Daler Mehendi which will become a rage & the "Haanikarak Baapu" song. Sethu Sriram has done a fine job with the visuals while Ballu Saluja's editing was crisp. 

Even before I talk about Aamir Khan, I feel it is only right that I mention about the girls who were absolutely brilliant. Each one of them have done their parts exceptionally with Zaira Wasim (younger Geeta) being my personal favourite. It's hard to believe that it is the debut venture of all of them & each one of them apart from their acting have done their wrestling sequences unbelievably well. Since it is more focused on Fathima Sana, she deserves a special mention. Now what do I say about Aamir? he knows how to choose scripts & once he takes up a project, he gives his 100% to the role which is there for all to see. His physical transformation for the movie was awe evoking & the way he has enacted his part as a middle aged father was fantastic, taking care that he didnt overshadow the others & kept his stardom in check. Kudos to Nitesh & Aamir for that. Sakshi Talwar was a surprising choice as Aamir's wife but she proved as to why she is a much sought after artist in the silver screen. She might not have much dialogues as her expressions conveys volumes. Aparshakti Khurana & Ritvik Sahore both of whom essayed the role of Mahavir's nephew also deserves special mention as he provides the comic relief to the movie.

Verdict: The movie will take the box-office by storm & will break all records set by "Sultan". Frankly speaking, I feel this is one of Aamir's best performance to date if not the very best. Actually, it might seem like a tall ask but I have a feeling that it will usurp "PK" as the biggest blockbuster of all time. In short, it has all the ingredients that one could ask for & though I might sound a bit biased being a sports drama; I would suggest that you guys got to definitely watch it!!!

Rating: 4.5/5

Regards...Ben




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chennai 600028 II review: "Hilarious but not on par with the prequel!!!"

It's been a while since I had watched a hilarious Tamil movie & so I was looking forward to one for quite a while. With India winning the Mumbai test in style, I was in a mood to celebrate it with some laid back comedy & that's when my eyes fell upon Venkat Prabhu's "Chennai 600028 II" which had hit the screens last weekend. Since I am a huge fan of his brand of film making,  I decided to check it out. Hopefully this will live upto its prequel which had the audience in splits close to a decade back.


A decade has passed & Father time had caught up with the band of boys who has now become men with family responsibilities. Chennai Sharks still exists as Gopi (Vijay Vasanth) runs the team with new set of players. But the original gang still tries to meet up whenever possible courtesy of Seenu's (Premji) booze parties who had remained a bachelor. Since most of them were henpecked husbands, their wives strongly detested such rendezvous making it difficult for them to have some guy time. However, an opportunity presented itself when Raghu's (Jai) marriage was fixed with Anu (Sana Althaf) in her hometown of Theni. Over there, they meet up with their buddy Aravind who seeks their help to defeat the local champions led by the cunning Maruthu (Vaibhav). Little did they realise that this match was the beginning of their troubles as Raghu's wedding was put into jeopardy.


As mentioned earlier, I have always enjoyed Venkat Prabhu's movies which has a liberal dosage of humour, suspense & thrilling elements. Apart from "Maasu", all his previous ventures had worked with the audience.  He made his directorial debut with "Chennai 600028" which appealed to the audience as we could relate to the equation between the characters & also the thrill of the cricket match. In the sequel as well, he has more or less remained true to the narration format as there are ample humorous sequences but it lacks the zip of the former as we dont root for the characters like before. In the technical department, Yuvan Shankar Raja has provided some decent tracks while Rajeev Yadav's visuals had that rustic feel of the prequel. On the negative, Praveen K L ought to have done a better job with the editing as the 2.5 h movie feels way too long. 

Inspite of the numerous characters, each one is given adequate screen space. Shiva rocks with his one liners & crazy movie reviews while Vaibhav was fantastic (my personal favourite) in the negative role. Jai's character required him to be sober while Premji still evokes laughs along with Vijay Vasanth. The rest of the cast have also done their roles aptly.

Verdict: Chennai is slowly getting back to its feet after the demise of their illustrious CM Jayalalitha & to add to it the fury of Cyclone Vardah, so it is likely that the collections will be hit in the initial phase. However, the positive reviews & success of the prequel should help the movie in the long run. In short, it might not be as entertaining as the first installment but still worth a watch provided you watched the prequel to relate to the humour!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Befikre review: "Audience needs to fikre if they want to spent time on this!!!"

If one takes up the list of the biggest blockbusters in Bollywood, then one name which will figure prominently in the top is "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge". So much so, it is still running in Maratha Mandir for close to 1100 weeks. Now the man behind this timeless romance saga which established SRK as the King of Romance is Aditya Chopra. The reclusive director & chairman of Yash Raj films, have done just 3 films in the past two decades, all of which had raked in the moolah. So when Adi announced his latest venture "Befikre", the expectations were pretty high which seemed justified after all the songs & trailers had captured innumerable number of eyeballs. So can Adi be befikre as to whether this matches his previous releases???


Dharam (Ranver Singh) is a quintessential Delhi guy who had moved over to Paris to work in his buddy's club as a stand up comedian. He meets up with Shyra (Vani Kapoor), who was brought up in France after her parents had migrated into the country as chefs. The duo hit off famously with their no holds barred attitude as neither of them were keen on a commitment. In due time, they break up but continued to remain friends which is when they started to realize the importance of the other. Though both of them get into other relationships, it didnt quite have the same vibe that the two shared. But will they risk getting back together & if so, is it possible???


Aditya's credentials as a film maker is well documented, so I guess there is no point in harping about it. But the question is, was he able to regain his touch after such a long hiatus??? The answer is an emphatic No, as his script neither offers anything new that we haven't seen nor does the treatment engrosses us. It seemed like the mish mash of several movies that we had seen over the years & true to Yash Raj movies, it is shot in beautiful locales with the characters making constant references to their desi roots, All the technical aspects deserves browny points be it the visuals which were exquisite thanks to Kaname Onoyama or the smashing choreography by Vaibhavi Merchant. Vishal Shekhar's music was foot thumping stuff along with Mikey McCleary's BGM which was in sync with the mood of the movie.

In one of the recent interviews, Adi had mentioned that he had written the script keeping Ranveer in mind & wouldnt have made the movie if the latter had refused. Anywaz I have to admit that Ranveer was an apt choice for the character as his unbridled energy & crazy attitude which even goes to the extent of showing his bare ass, carries the movie inspite of the weak script. Vani Kapoor who was last seen on the big screen more than four years back in "Shhudh Desi Romance" was full of spunk & fire. However even though the two indulge in a kissing spree & makes out with gay abandon, they just didnt have any smoking chemistry between them. As for the rest of the cast, though they didnt have much to do all of them have done a decent job.

Verdict: The catchy trailer & brand value of Adi, will ensure a commendable opening in the multiplex. But with the script so mediocre & hardly anything happening, apart from the innumerable kisses, the number of footfalls will drastically decrease in the coming days. In short, watch the thrilling Mumbai Test match befikre but not this movie!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben






Monday, December 5, 2016

Kahaani 2 review: "Kahaani is bogged down by expectations & predictability!!!"

Seems like the season of sequels hasn't ended as we had yet another one hitting the screens this weekend. Incidentally, it happened to be "Kahaani 2", the prequel of which had impressed both the critics & audience alike. Apart from a couple of guest appearances, it's been more than a year since Vidya Balan had graced the screens & since she will be playing the protagonist again, the expectations are sky high. So will the sequel be able to rise above or atleast equal the benchmark set by "Kahaani"???


As in the prequel, the story unfolds in Kolkata where Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) is a single parent to her handicapped daughter, Mini (Tunisha Sharma). Life moved along peacefully for the two, until Mini gets kidnapped & Vidya frantically goes in search of her after a call from the kidnapper. However, she meets with an accident & slips into a coma. Sub Inspector Indrajeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) is called in to investigate the case & is stumped by the fact that she looks like Durga Rani, a wanted criminal. So was it the same person or a dopple ganger & will Vidya wake up from her coma before it is too late???


Sujoy Ghosh who had thrilled the audience four years back with "Kahaani" is back on the director's seat for the sequel. In between he had directed the Radhika Apte starrer "Ahalya", a short film which had wowed the audience with its thrilling script. In his latest venture as well, he has penned the script which takes up the disturbingly relevant topic of "child abuse", that very few Bollywood movies has explored. Armed with a credible thread, Sujoy executes the first half of the movie excellently as it captures the attention of the audience & steadily builds towards an even more riveting latter half. Unfortunately that's not what happens as the central theme gets sidelined & the movie culminates towards a predictable climax. The emotional trauma that the victim(s) goes through is barely touched upon & it is eventually turned into an attempt by Vidya to save her daughter in a rather passive manner unlike the prequel where she takes it upon herself to wreck havoc on her enemies. Tapan Basu has done a commendable job with the picturisation while Clinton Cereja's music blends with the movie.

Vidya Balan has rocked as the protagonist & plays both the parts with conviction though I cant help saying that the script couldnt do justice to her caliber. I would have to admit that I was pleasantly with Arjun Rampal's performance as he has done his part pretty well & is provided adequate screen space to showcase his skills. Jugal Hansraj has been in the wilderness for quite a while & makes a comeback with a decent performance, though he was reduced to a mundane villain in the climax. As for the rest, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Tunisha Sharma etc have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: The film will surely have a decent opening thanks to the response that the prequel had garnered. However, if the prequel had the word of mouth going in its favour in the subsequent weeks; that is unlikely to happen here which means the initial collections will be better but in the long run it will lag behind. The film had met the expectations in the first half, but in the latter half it spirals down to an ordinary thriller. In short, if you watch it without keeping the prequel as the benchmark, then you wont be disappointed!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben