Sunday, July 16, 2017

Jagga Jasoos review: "Unique & absorbing but not many would share the same opinion!!!"

The Indian eves have booked their place in the WC semis & Roger will be gunning for his 19th Grand Slam title in less than 6 h from now. Since I had time at my disposal, I decided to check out "Jagga Jasoos" after I was done with the household shopping for the week. Ever since I had seen the trailer, I was enthralled by the manner it was picturised as it seemed like a mishmash of Hollywood & Bollywood (in a good way). With a stellar cast & crew behind the making of the movie, the expectations are nigh high. So will it be a critical & commercial success like "Barfi"???


Jagga (Ranbir Kapoor) was an orphan who had the problem of stammering but had a keen eye for detail which made him an expert at deduction. He didnt have anyone for company, until he was adopted by Badal Bagchi aka Tooti Footi (Saswata Chatterjee) who instilled in him the confidence to overcome his stammer. Life moved on happily for Jagga, until his father puts him in the boarding school & leaves on a secret mission. Over the next few years, the only contact that Jagga had with his father was the video cassette that Tooti Footi used to sent him on his birthday. But when the present stops coming, he senses that some danger might have befallen his father & sets out to unravel it with the help of the journalist, Shruti (Katrina Kaif). 

This impressive piece of art is the creation of Anurag Basu, who continues his fine form after "Barfi" which was released five years back. Scripted by Anurag himself, the film is a combination of different genres such as musical, mystery & adventure. Kudos to his vision, as it engrosses our attention even though it runs close to three hours. The protagonist seems to be a desi version of Tintin & the whole movie has basically got three separate cases which gets bigger & grander as it reaches the climax. 

Personally speaking, I absolutely loved the musical format & all the technical aspects were brilliant. Pritam & Amitabh Bhattacharya deserves praise for their excellent music & lyrics such as "Khaana Khaake", "Galti se Mistake" etc which accentuates the mood of the movie. Equally impressive was Ravi Varman's visuals that captivates us. Ranbir was brilliant as Jagga & has done utmost justice to the role. The same amount of praise or even more applies to Saswata as well, who would be familiar to many as the assassin in "Kahaani". Saurabh Shukla rocks as usual while Katrina & Rajatava Dutta have done their parts aptly as well. 

Verdict: The unique treatment & musical format might not be palatable to many as was evidenced by the mixed reviews that had come out. From my point of view, it is an excellent movie which is distinct in flavour & yet ticks all the desired boxes that would entertain the audience. In short, definitely check it out; who knows maybe you will also love it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mom review: "Impresses for large parts but lacks the edge of the seat effect!!!"

Over the years, we have heard & read about articles which scream hoarse about the importance of women equality. There is no doubt that it is a fundamental right that is extremely important for the upliftment of the female gender & development of any nation. However, I believe all of this will happen unless the women is given the respect that they deserve as a human being rather than a commodity for gratification. Sadly, we are witness to news about gory rape incidents all across our country every day & though there are rules in place, more often than not our judicial system is found to be woefully short. This is exactly what is depicted in Ravi Udyawar's "Mom" which has Sridevi as the protagonist. But Bollywood has a habit of making such movies pretty cliche & titillating rather than make us empathetic about the victim. Will this be any different???


Devki (Sridevi) is a Biology teacher in a respectable school in Delhi who is popular among her students. But she knew were to draw the line as Mohit, a wayward rich kid realised when she threw his mobile out of the window as punishment for sending a porn clip to her step daughter Arya (Sajal Ali). Even though, Devki adored Arya as her own child; the latter maintained a frosty relation with her. With Valentine's Day just round the corner, Arya sought the permission of her father Anand (Adnan Siddiqui) to attend the most happening party in the city. Though reluctant early on, he eventually agrees after Devki's persuasion. Little did they realise that this party would change their lives forever. 

The film was helmed by debutant Ravi Udyawar who is relatively well known in the advertising world. Along with Girish Kohli & Venkat Rao, he has scripted a story which is not unfamiliar to any of us due to similarities to real life incidents. Even otherwise as well, it is more or else similar to Raveena Tandon's "Maatr". But it would be fair to admit that this is a superior version of it, in terms of the way it has been shot & the caliber of the leading lady. However, it fails to thrill the audience & except for Sajal, we dont empathize with neither the sequences (except for the court scenes which was brilliant) nor the characters. Equally unrealistic was the manner in which the protagonist gets away with the crime. 

On the technical side, hats off to the Anay Goswami's slick visuals especially the manner in which the rape was picturised until the victim gets disposed. AR Rahman's BGM was brilliant & added to the overall impact. However, I wish Monisha Baldawa was more judicious with the editing. Coming to performances, this is Sridevi's first outing since "English Vinglish" & is her 300th movie in the 50th year of her film career. She carries the movie on her shoulders & brings her A game to the fore, though she hams it up at times. Sajal Ali was excellent along with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who provides the comic relief with his hilarious statements. Akshaye Khanna was wasted while the others have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: As expected, it is unlikely to create a rush at the box office due to the genre & grim nature of the subject. When it comes to the thread, it wont come across as anything unique but the manner in which it has been shot coupled with credible performances makes it worth watching. In short, it's definitely worth a try!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spider-man Homecoming review: "Marvel gets the Spidey series on the right track!!!"

In recent times, superhero movies have taken the world by storm & the two big players slugging it out for box office glory are DC & Marvel.  But it would be fair to admit that Marvel have come up on top invariably at all times. However, about a fortnight back I had watched "Wonderwoman" & my word, it was freaking awesome. It is surely the first genuine threat that DC had posed & Marvel would be hoping that they can negate that threat with the Spiderman franchise launched a third time. Hmm...it remains to be seen whether "Spiderman: Homecoming" would impress the audience or are there already too many spiders in the web???


The Avengers' battle with the Chitauris had demolished New York & the responsibility of cleaning up the city was entrusted upon Adrian Toomes (Micheal Keaton) & his salvage company. However, due to the risk of presence of exotic alien artifacts in the ruins; Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) Department of Damage Control took over the responsibility which put Adrian out of business. In order to make up for the loss, Adrian & his team enters into arms trafficking making use of the Chitauri technology that they had scavenged. Things moved along smoothly until a conflict broke out between Captain America & Iron Man (“Captain America: Civil War”) & the latter brings in Spiderman (Tom Holland) into his team. After the conflict was resolved, Stark informed Peter that he would be kept in the loop as he still needed further training before being inducted into the Avengers. But Peter was impatient & inspite of Stark’s stern message, tries to prove his worth by taking on criminals. It was during one such pursuit, that Spiderman stumbled upon Adrian’s arms deal. So did he have it in him to take on Adrian or was Stark right after all???

At the turn of the 21st century, Sony Pictures decided to launch the Spiderman series & it was a decision that they never regretted The first two parts were both critical & commercial successes with Tobey Maguire donning the suit, but the final part garnered mixed reviews. They rebooted the franchise with Andrew Garfield which also saw a see saw effect after the initial hype. However, Sony laughed their way to the bank as they reaped close to four times of what they had invested. Now they have joined hands with Disney & Marvel, to launch a new version which would be in turn integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Jon Watts was entrusted with the task & I would have to admit he has done a pretty good job despite the fact that he doesnt have a track record to harp about. The story by Goldstein & Francis Daley wouldnt make us sit up, but their screenplay made up for it with a lively premise. Interestingly they didnt waste time on the origin of Spiderman or characters like Uncle Ben, which was a smart move & gives us a fun filled breezy film instead that is so typical of Marvel productions. Tom Holland has done justice to his role while Michael Keaton breathes life into a villain which barely had much spice to it. As for the rest, Jacob Batalon as Ned was spot on, Marisa Tomei was wasted while Robert Downey Jr impresses in his extended cameo.

Verdict: Spiderman has got off to a roaring start cashing in about $117 million dollars over the weekend. Frankly speaking I was sceptical when I had seen the trailer as I felt Tom Holland didnt seem to have the X factor needed for the character In addition, the movie lacked a meaty storyline as it seemed like this was just to establish the character as we approach the Infinity War series. However, you can rest assured that when you watch the movie you would be thoroughly entertained!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tubelight review: "Kinda yakeen that it wont match Salman's usual box-office onslaught!!!"

The holy month of Ramadan has come to an end with the fast broken & the new moon sighted. So on this auspicious occasion of Eid Al Fitr, I would like to wish Allah's Rahmat on all my fellow brings for a peaceful & prosperous life. Apart from hogging on the goodies, one of the indispensable ways of celebrating a festival is watching a movie & when it comes to Bollywood, this day is invariably locked down for Salman. In accordance with the usual trend, Salman presents "Tubelight" this year hoping to add further light to the festivities. Hmm... but will it be able in the same league as his previous blockbusters???


Based on Alejandro Monteverde's "Little Boy", the tale is set against the backdrop of the Indo-China war in 1962. The protagonists were two brothers who lived in the misty town of Kumaon nestled in the hills. Laxman Singh (Salman Khan) is a man child (more along the lines of Forest Gump) who endeared to one & all due to his innocence & slow witted nature which gave him the nickname "Tubelight". He was looked after by his protective younger brother, Bharat (Sohail Khan) & life seemed to move along peacefully until war broke out between the two neighbouring nations. As it was the need of the hour, there was large induction of youth into the army & Bharat happened to be one of them. Even though reluctant to leave his brother, Bharat heads into the war zone. Since he feared for his brother's well being, Laxman makes efforts to bring his brother back home. But will the two brothers ever meet again???

After the bombastic success of "Bajrangi Bhaijaan", Kabir Khan has yet again joined hands with Salman for their third collaboration. If "Little Boy" had a 8 year old kid as the protagonist then Kabir Khan used his creative freedom & financial acumen to make it into a guy in his early 50s. The primary flaw here is that there isnt a credible thread to the script & it's all about Laxman putting his faith to the test (except that it came across as rather trivial). In such a scenario, the 136 minute long movie tests our patience which should have been taken care of by Rameshwar Bhagat. On the brighter side, I did like Pritham's tracks which was in sync with the mood created while Aseem Mishra has done a decent job with the visuals.

There is no doubt that Salman excels when he plays characters which exudes innocence & has a heart of gold. However, over here there were more emotionally charged sequences & he seemed rather inept at it; though we will still take a liking for his character's simplicity. Salman's scenes with Matin Rey Tenga worked out pretty well & the boy has given an impressive performance. Surprisingly, Sohail Khan has done a fine job in the few scenes that he appeared. The late Om Puri, Zhu Zhu, Zeeshan Ayub etc have all done justice to their parts. Shah Rukh's cameo as a magician was fantastic as he fitted the character perfectly.

Verdict: The weekend got off to a great start for Salman as "Sultan" won the best action movie award at the Shanghai International Film Festival. However, he wouldnt have got a similar high from "Tubelight" as the opening day collection was one of the lowest for his Eid releases. Well it's definitely not surprising due to the reasons mentioned earlier. In short, it is yakeen to fall well short of expectations!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben




Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sachin: A billion dreams review: "A whirlwind of emotions, nostalgia & goosebumps!!!"

India begins its defense of the Champions Trophy in a week's time with the first clash against arch rivals Pakistan. Whether our team manages to defend the title remains to be seen but this excitement for the game began after we had lifted the WC in 1983. However, it was the greatest cricketer of all time Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar who skyrocketed our interest with his brilliance, humility & character. In the 90s, he was so dominant that the opposition feared him while the public adored him to the extent that people used to switch off the TV after he was dismissed. He has given us numerous memories over the years & carried the hopes of the nation for more than two decades. Hence when director James Erskine announced that he was planning a movie on the Bharat Ratna, the hype & excitement had gone through the roof.  In recent times, there has been quite a few biographical movies about sports personalities like M S Dhoni, Milkha Singh, Phogat etc. However, this was a docu-drama rather than an biopic & it remains to be seen whether it would be as awesome as the legend himself. 


Sachinnnn...Sachinnnn...the chant still reverberates in my ears every time I set eyes on a cricket match. Just like many others, he was the sole reason why I started to watch the game & is one of the two idols that I always looked upto (the other being my father). I still remember the day when I first saw him on TV giving an interview to Tom Alter. In those days, the only cricketer's name that I knew was Kapil Dev & I was pretty fascinated to see a puny kid who was just 8 years older to me rub shoulders with the big guys. So I coaxed my mom, who was an avid sports lover to teach me the rules of the game. Incidentally the first match that I saw was the exhibition match in which he smashed the legendary Abdul Qadar for 27 which included four consecutive sixes. This craze continued until he hung his boots at the Wankhede Stadium after 24 long years. Erskine has tried to capture the highs & lows of Sachin's career, something which is not so easy after all he must have been the most scrutinized sports icon in the world. So there is hardly anything that most of us don't know about the Master Blaster. 

James Erskine might not be a popular name for many but those who are well versed with sports documentaries, he is a doyen at it. Some of his popular ventures being "Battle of the Sexes", "Pantani", "Shooting for Socrates" etc. In his latest venture "Sachin: A Billion Dreams", he has pretty much covered all the major events in Sachin's life with insights provided by his family being the highlight. Knowing the person that Sachin is, it wasn't a surprise that nothing much has been revealed about the match fixing scandal but ample screen time is devoted on his relation with his father, his injuries & mental state during the lows of his career. Even though the music wasnt vintage A R Rahman, it was in sync with the mood & elevates the viewing experience. 

Verdict: It wont rate as a top notch documentary drama but it has got everything that would keep us hooked. Sachin is not just a name but an emotion & for all of those individuals who had followed his career, this will give us an opportunity to relive the memories. It will make us smile, hoot, whistle & even choke a bit when he gives his heartfelt retirement speech. Being a hard core Sachin fan, I  might be biased but even if you are only a cricket fan; you just cant afford to miss this!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hindi Medium review: "Impressive satire which all parents would relate to!!!"

As I was idling on my couch after a sumptuous Chinese buffet on Sunday afternoon with my friends, I happened to come across some articles about an Irrfan Khan movie titled "Hindi Medium" that had released over the weekend. Incidentally, it spoke positively about it & my curiosity was aroused as I was still hurting from the "Half Girlfriend" debacle. Though the thrilling IPL final & Real Madrid's La Liga triumph had made up for it, I decided to check it out after all I had some time to spare & Irrfan invariably had a track record of working in sensible movies. 


Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) is the owner of an expensive boutique in Chandni Chowk & was blessed with all the luxuries of life. However, he wasnt proficient in English & didnt quite have the mannerisms of the so called "elite class", which his wife Mita (Saba Qamar) aspired for. Both of them had studied in govt schools & Mita was pretty adamant that their daughter studied in one of Delhi's prestigious English medium schools. Out of the prominent schools, 'Prakriti' was the one which was most sought after but it had a condition that it would provide admission to only those who stayed within a 3 km radius. Hoping to keep his wife happy, Raj unwillingly agrees to shift to Vasant Vihar & make changes to their lifestyles to gel with the upscale neighbourhood . Little did they realize that this was the least of their problems.

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The scramble for admissions in prestigious schools is a sight which we see every year & it goes without saying that most parents would go to any extent to ensure that their child is enrolled into one. Another main reason for this mad race is our nation's obsession for English over regional languages & it is a fact beyond doubt  More often than not, the admission criteria for such schools is based on the bank balance of the parents, their lifestyles & status in society.  Saket Chaudhary who showcased his prowess with "Pyaar Ke Side Effects" & "Shaadi Ke Side Effects" has been successful in weaving a hilarious satire on the scamper for admissions in the company of Zeenat Lakhani. 

There are sequences in the movie which are far fetched but it still strikes a chord with the audience as it is both funny & thought provoking at times. Laxman Utrekar's visuals was in sync with the mood while Sachin-Jigar has given some decent tracks as well. Irrfan Khan rocked as the protagonist which yet again reiterated as to why he is held in high esteem in the West & his chemistry with Saba Qamar was one of the main positives of the movie. Apart from being a delight for the eyes, the Pakistani actress is undoubtedly the best from her country to have graced the Indian screen in recent times. Equally impressive were Deepak Dobriyal & Swati Das who nailed their parts while Amrita Singh was ok who was hampered by a rather weakly written role. 

Verdict: As far as the script is concerned, it is undoubtedly inspired from the Bengali movie "Ramdhanu" which was remade into "Salt Mango Tree"in Malayalam. The hilarious take on the plight of parents for admissions is something many of us would relate to. Though not meant to demean the Indian educational system in total, it poses relevant questions as to what each one of us considers as effective education for our children. In short, don't miss it!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Half girlfriend review: "Not worth watching even at half the price!!!"

What is the most important aspect of a movie? Hmm...well if you ask me it has to be the script. But that alone doesn't guarantee a good movie unless it is entrusted in the hands of a talented cast & crew. Irrespective of the language, literary works have always proved to be worthy scripts & over the years, many novels have been adapted into movies. Among the various novelists, Chetan Bhagat is one prominent name which pops up as many of his novels has been made into blockbuster movies such as "3 Idiots", "Kai Po Che" etc. His latest novel to have reached the 70mm screen is "Half Girlfriend". But will it be as successful as it's predecessors...hard to say, though to be frank, I don't believe it would.

Madhav Jha (Arjun Kapoor), the heir to an esteemed lineage from Bihar secures a seat at the prestigious St Stephen's College on the back of a sports scholarship. He gets smitten by his college mate Riya Somani (Shraddha Kapoor), who was more like a tomboy & flaunted her affluent background. But behind that bold exterior she was actually a lonely girl who longed for love & companionship. Though Madhav was head over heels for her, she preferred to be aloof at times as she wasn't keen on a commitment or in her own words would prefer nothing more than being a "half girlfriend. Their relationship didnt last for long as Riya dropped out of college & was married off to her family friend. As expected, Madhav wasn't able to cope with the heart break & tried to channelize his energy towards the welfare of his villagers.

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The New York Times in 2008 cited Bhagat as "the biggest selling English language novelist in India's history". Well he might have sold quite a lot but a significant reason for the blockbusters was because they were in the hands of talented craftsmen like Rajkumar Hirani & Abhishek Kapoor. Mohit Suri does have some huge hits under his belt like "Aashiqui 2", "Murder 2" etc., but I don't quite consider him of the same caliber. Since I haven't read the novel, I can't comment as to how faithful the movie has been to it. But the fact is the plot itself is rather vague & the characters come across as rather shallow that you cant help cringing at times; not to forget that Mohit had chosen a wrong set of lead pairs who doesn't do justice to the requirements of their characters. 

If you would look at the track record of Mohit Suri, one positive aspect in almost all of his movies is the music. More often than not, all of them had atleast one chart buster & it's pretty much the same here as well. There are a host of music directors at work here & they have produced a couple of soulful tracks such as "Baarish", "Phir Bhi Tumko" etc. The visuals doesn't deserve special mention & Devendra Murusdeshwar's editing left a lot to be desired. Coming to the performances, neither Arjun nor Shraddha had the capabilities to pull off the characters. The one person who did impress was Vikrant Massey who has done a fine job as Shailesh.

Verdict: There are no two words about it, the film has a lot of pitfalls in the script & it was further handicapped by two lead actors who doesn't have it in them the ability to enact with conviction. To make matters worse, they had zero chemistry between them.  Even though not intended to be hilarious, the scene where they superimposed Bill Gates's face on someone else's body just shows how tacky the making has been. In short, better to watch the IPL final rather than give yourself a headache!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Meri Pyaari Bindu review: "Struggles to kindle pyaar among the audience for the movie!!!"

Just as I was browsing through the entertainment news today, one headline which caught my eye was the news of "Dangal" having crossed 1000 C as well courtesy of its release in China more than a week back. Incidentally, Aparshakti Khurrana who made an impressive debut in "Dangal" had his more popular brother Ayushmann's movie "Meri Pyaari Bindu" hitting the screens this weekend. So will it make the situation even more graver for "Sarkar 3" which is struggling to make even 10 C???


Abhimanyu Roy (Ayushmann) is a best selling author in the horror erotica genre who decided to forego his corporate career to pursue his passion of writing. It proved to be the right decision as his books became an instant hit among the readers, though the critics panned it as nothing more than cheap thrills. It's been a couple of years since his last book had hit the stands as he was presently victim to the writer's block. With his publisher constantly nagging him, Abhi had to come up with something fast but he just couldnt produce it onto paper. It was at this juncture that his parents forced him to visit them in Kolkata. This sowed the seeds for his next book as he stumbled across a mixed tape that he had made with his best friend & crush, Bindu (Parineeti Chopra). How their relationship developed over the years forms the crux of the movie. 

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The film has been helmed by the debutant Akshay Roy who along with the help of the script by Suprotim Sengupta try to put their desi flavour to the rom com genre. The idea of narrating the ups & downs of their relationship with the mixed tape was definitely interesting. However, that concept was barely developed & it turned out to be nothing more than a collection of old classic songs which kept popping up at times. There are quite a few sequences which hooks the audience especially the parts shot in Kolkata which was both funny & sentimental but the plot as such was barely existent & we dont actually empathise with the characters. Tushar Ray has done a fine job with the visuals with the opening shot of Durga Devi deserving special praise while Sachin-Jigar has done a decent job with the music.

Both the performers have done their parts well, but Ayushmann's character had more depth to it which he portrayed equally well. As for Parineeti, her character felt pretty superficial & doesnt give much insight into Bindu as such. With regard to other characters, Aparajita Auddy who played the part of Abhi's mother was hilarious while the rest of the characters have also done their parts aptly.

Verdict:   It will cater to the multiplex audience & should be able to break even in due time. The absymal "Sarkar 3" will also work in its favour & most of the people would have watched "Baahubali" by now. In short, it is surely not one of the best rom coms to come from the Yash Raj stable, but it wont hurt to give it a try if you do like the genre!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sarkar 3 review: "As trivial as RGV's tweets!!!"

It's been a fortnight since "Baahubali 2" has released & as I had predicted it has crossed the 1000 C mark with ease. As the epic's box office collections steadily makes it way into unchartered territories, the other film makers back home have been skeptical regarding when to showcase their wares lest they get drowned in the Baahubali tsunami. However, we did have a reasonably high profile release this week in the form of "Sarkar 3". But will RGV's creation have the quality to make us sit up & take notice? Seems like a tall ask after all his creativity (does he still have it?) is a pale shadow of what it was more than a decades back.


Subhash Negre (Big B) is still the darling of the masses & headache of the corrupt as he maintained an iron fist over the political climate in the state. Inspite of having lost both his sons & survived numerous assassination attempts on his life, he continued to make sure that the commoners were not exploited by the rich & powerful. He was ably assisted by his trusted lieutenant Gokul (Ronit Roy) & as expected just as his followers increased, his enemies also grew in number. The latest adversary who sought to end Sarkar's reign happened to be Michael Mallya (Jackie Shroff), a real estate businessman who operated from Dubai. But a bigger problem was when Sarkar's grandson Shivaji (Amit Sadh) sought to come under his grandfather's wings. Just like his father, Shivaji was impulsive & brash which created unrest in Sarkar's camp much to the delight of Michael & his men who milked the situation to their benefit. Can Sarkar trust anyone on his side or was it the end of the road for him???

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There was a time when Ram Gopal Verma was one of the most exciting directors in the country with movies like " Siva", "Company", "Rangeela", "Ab Tak Chappan" etc. But a couple of years into the new millennium, he seemed to have lost his touch to enthrall the audience as he churned out mediocre ventures at alarming regularity. However, on saying that this is surely one of his better efforts in the past decade. When the first part came out in 2005, it gripped the audience as it was inspired from Bal Thackeray & the Godfather series. Even the sequel had a story to tell with Abhishek & Aishwarya put into the mix. But the latest installment didnt have anything to convey as Nilesh Girkar, Jaya Kumar & Ramkumar Singh seemed to have just taken the CDs of the prequels & changed the name of the characters. Interestingly even a fleeting mention of Aishwarya's character is not made in the movie considering she was calling the shots at the end of the second part. The only portion which did interest me was the climax though by that time I was waiting for the movie to end.

RGV always had a fascination for bikini clad chicks, silhouettes, odd camera angles, focusing on inanimate objects even as the characters are blurting out their corny dialogues & all of this is present in ample measure here as well. It has been captured through Amol Rathod's frames & the blaring BGM has been the contribution of Ravi Shankar & Rohan Vinayak. When it came to performances, it is basically a Big B show but he doesnt have anything to do apart from slurping his coffee & speak in his baritone voice. He has done justice to his role though he could have done it even with his eyes closed. Amit Sadh impressed as the short tempered instinctive Shivaji along with Ronit Roy. Manoj Bajpayee was wasted, Jackie evoked a couple of chuckles with his double entendres while Yami Gautam & the rest barely had anything substantial to do.

Verdict: There is hardly any factor which works in its favour to the extent that I would rate "Meri Pyaari Bindu" way better than this. With "Baahubali" going strong, it will struggle to make it to the next week & will end up as yet another flop in RGV's career. In short, dont bother as it's as trivial as his tweets!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Baahubali 2 review: "Rajamouli delivers what he promised!!!"

April 28th, 2017; the date that all movie lovers have been waiting for is finally here. I dont think I need to elaborate about it since it is common knowledge that it is the release date of "Baahubali 2: The Conclusion". There has never been any Indian movie that has garnered as much pre-release hype as Rajamouli's magnum opus. It's a known fact that living upto expectations is no mean task & Rajamouli and his team had gargantuan expectations stacked up against them. So did they manage to scale those lofty heights???


So why did Katappa (Satyaraj) kill Baahubali (Prabhas)??? a question that has been asked a million times & gave birth to numerous memes . Well we have the answer now but dont worry guys, I am not going to post any spoilers here. The sequel begins with Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) instructing Baahubali to tour the kingdom to know his subjects prior to his coronation with Katappa for company. In the meantime, she was also on the lookout for a suitable bride for him but Baahubali during his journey fell for Devasena (Anushka Shetty), the princess of the Kuntala kingdom. Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati) saw this as an opportunity to create a fall-out between his mother & cousin. But what was his plan & did it actually work out???

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Rajamouli, the master craftsman is back with a bang & he has gone all out to create a movie that gives us a measure of his imagination. The extravagant scale in which it is made will surely make one to gasp in awe. The biggest plus for most parts is the well etched characters especially the females who actually decides in which track the story moves forward. The emotional sequences are undoubtedly the best & the stunt choreography is awesome (it might appear outlandish at times, but I loved it). However, the first 40 minutes could have been much more compactly picturised with the comedy track not quite hitting the mark at times & the climax was rather hurried (maybe Rajamouli didnt want to make a 2.5). 

On the technical side, the VFX was excellent for most parts but close-up portions didnt quite have the perfection expected. Senthil Kumar deserves praise for the mesmerizing visuals while Sabu Cyril & his team have done a mind boggling job in the art direction department. M.M Keeravani has done a decent job with the music though BGM was damn good. 

What do I say about Prabhas? I havent seen any of his movies prior to the Baahubali series but frankly speaking, I cant think of anyone who could have done that character any better. Hats off to his dedication & the same applies to Rana Daggubati as well. Satyaraj scorched the screen with a brilliant performance while Nasser & Subbaraju have done justice to their roles. However, the show stealers for me were Ramya Krishnan & Anushka, both of whom have given knock out performances with the meaty roles that they were entrusted with.

Verdict: As expected, it has broken all the opening records & became the first Indian movie to collect more than 100 C on a single day. It was made on a combined budget of around 300 C & had collected more than 500 C even prior to its release through sales of its rights etc. It might be early to predict, but I believe it will be the first Indian film to gross 1000 C at the box office. In short, you definitely got to watch it & be a part of Indian film history!!!

Rating: 4.25/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Noor review: "Definitely not the noor of the audience!!!"

With just a week left for "Baahubali: The Conclusion" to hit the screens, there are no other major releases in the horizon. Well it's quite understandable after all this mammoth movie will certainly swallow anything in its path in the initial phase. However, we did have women centric movies take centre stage amidst this lull with "Begum Jaan" last week & Sonakshi's "Noor" this weekend. To be frank, I didnt even know that such a movie was even going to release & hence had no expectations at all. Hmm...in such a scenario it should be easier to satisfy the audience in me isnt it, but did it mange to do that???


Noor (Sonakshi Sinha) is a journalist who aspires to be the next "Barkha" but her boss assigns her to cover news on subjects which is nowhere even remotely related to meaningful journalism. Her personal life was also a mess & she spent most parts of the day cribbing about her very existence. The only people who brought a smile to her face were her close buddies, Zara (Shibani Dandekar) & Saad (Kanan Gill). But things started to look brighter when she meets Ayan Banerjee (Purab Kohli), an ace photographer & they hit off in due time. On the professional side as well, she stumbles upon an organ harvesting scam when her domestic help, Malti (Smita Tambi) confides in her about the misfortune that had befallen on her brother. Will this story be the break that Noor was waiting for???

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Based on Saba Imtiaz's "Karachi, You are Killing Me!" (which I haven't read), Sunhil Sippy have made a movie which is a concoction of rom-com & investigative journalism. But the sad reality is he wasn't able to do justice to either of them especially the latter one. The manner in which the protagonist goes about her job would have even made an amateur journalist cringe in embarrassment. Even when Noor messes up stuff, instead of standing up & sorting it out, Sunhil chose to make the character run away from it. The only thing that actually works (that too, partially) is the rom-com part which kinda reminded me of "Bridget Jones's Diary". 

On the technical side, Keiko Nakahara's visuals were fine while the music by Amaal Mallik was average. Even though the movie is just under 2 hours, it still manages to test our patience. Sonakshi has done a fine job in the lighthearted portions but ends up short in the other parts. Smita Tambe was brilliant while Shibani, Purab & Kanan have done justice to their parts. 

Verdict: "Noor" will struggle to stay afloat beyond this weekend even though there is no other competition. Sunhil could have surely done a lot better with the basic story line that he had, unfortunately it wasn't the case as it culminates in a muddled climax as well. In short, don't bother!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, April 17, 2017

Begum Jaan review: "Unlikely to be the jaan of the boxoffice!!!"

On the auspicious occasion of "Easter", may the spirit of the Lord be filled in the homes of my friends & family. It's been an extended weekend courtesy of other festivals such as "Vishu", "Puthandu" etc making it an occasion for families to spent some quality time with each other. To add to the festive mood, we have a plethora of movies hitting the screens this month after all the holiday season have started. The big release from Bollywood this week happened to be Vidya Balan's "Begum Jaan",whose trailer had made the people sit up & take notice. Will it be yet another knock out performance from the lady superstar???


After close to 200 years of slavery, India gained independence from the British in 1947 on the back of sacrifices of millions of known & unknown faces. But independence came at an additional price as well as it involved the partition of the country into India & Pakistan which led to millions being killed & rendered homeless. Sir Cyril Radcliffe was entrusted with the task & he completed the division of the provinces of Punjab & Bengal in five weeks. The boundary demarcation line between India & Pakistan was called the "Radcliffe line" & it incidentally happened to pass through a region in Punjab where a brothel stood. Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) was the madam of the brothel & she made it amply clear in expletives strewn discourse to the government officials that they intended to stay their ground inspite of the eviction notice. As the brothel was under the patronage of Rajaji (Naseeruddin Shah) the ruler in the region; Begum Jaan was hopeful that the threat to their existence would be averted. So how was the issue resolved or was it beyond the control of her influential clients???

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The film was helmed by reputed Bengali director Srijit Mukherji who is a familiar name when it comes to film festivals & National awards. His Bollywood directorial debut happens to be the remake of his 2015 critical hit "Rajkahini". Though I havent seen it, I have read that the only difference was in the division region as this involved the boundary line drawn through the province of Bengal. The script penned by Srijit sounded interesting but it seemed pretty bare when it was executed on the screen. Apart from the defiant stand in the latter half, hardly anything happens as neither the tragic life of the prostitutes nor the scars of partition was explored (not to mean to put fingers in all the pots, but it could have been more fleshed out).

One of the highlights were the dialogues by Srijit & Kausar Munir while the visuals by Gopi Bhagat was fine. The art department deserves praise though the BGM wasnt quite upto the mark. Anu Malik & Khayyam have created the music & have done a reasonable job. The star of the movie is undoubtedly Vidya Balan who rocked the screen as Begum & once again underlined the fact that she is still one of the very best in the Hindi film industry. Chunky Pandey finally got a meaty role & he has absolutely nailed it, expecting him to bag a couple of awards for it. Gauahar Khan & Pallavi Sharda were the only girls apart from Vidya, who got to do something significant & both of them have done reasonably well especially the former's sequence with Pitobash Tripathy. The rest of the cast have done their parts adequately.

Verdict: Since "The Fate of the Furious" have also opened on the same day, "Begum Jaan" will find it hard to get much takers for it. Even regional movies like "Sakhavu", "Power Paandi" etc & rather offbeat nature of the movie will mean it will have a tough time in the South as well. Leaving all that aside, does this movie really deserve an audience? Well Vidya, Chunky & a few others have given impressive performances but the story as such fails to satiate the appetite of the audience. In short, check it out on TV or else forget it!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben






Sunday, April 2, 2017

Naam Shabana review: "Falls well short of expectations!!!"

Whenever we talk about Hindi espionage movies, one of the first few films that comes to my mind is Neeraj Pandey's "Baby". So when it was announced that Neeraj Pandey is planning a spin off prequel titled "Naam Shabana", I was pretty excited. The trailer further heightened the expectations as it showed Prithvi as the antagonist & Akki in a cameo, not to forget about Taapsee who kicked some serious ass. So it now remains to be seen whether it was able to live upto expectations & deliver what it promised???


For those who have seen "Baby", it's unlikely that you would have forgotten special agent Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) who rocked the screen in a brief role. In "Naam Shabana", it shows as to how she was recruited into the intelligence agency. Shabana was a martial arts student who had a dark past due to which she used to confide only in her mother. When her friend, Jay (Taher Shabbir) expresses his love for her; things started to brighten up in her life until Jay meets with his death in an eve-teasing incident. At this juncture, she gets an offer from the agency that they would help her avenge Jay's death if she agrees to join them. Shabana accepts their offer but was she really upto the challenge???

Shivam Nair has called the shots & since I havent seen any of his previous movies, I dont have any reference as to how good he is as a story teller. However, since it is Neeraj Pandey's production I had huge expectations especially since he was handling the script & screenplay. Without mincing words, I would have to admit that it was nowhere in the league of "A Wednesday", "Special 26" or "Baby". The film invests an enormous amount of time on the backstory which was far from engaging & if one expects that things will get better when the mission starts, then they are grossly mistaken. The plot is wafer thin & apart from a couple of sequences, it lacks logic and finesse with the hasty predictable climax being the prime example for it. 

One of the highlights of the movie are the action sequences which were choreographed by noted French stuntman Cyril Raffaeli. Even Sudheer Palsane deserves praise for the long shot visuals while the music was pretty mediocre. Taapsee has performed admirably as the protagonist in the action sequences though in the other segments, she comes across as rather bland. Even though Prithvi is the villain, it was more like a cameo & he gets wasted in a role which lacked substance. Akshay rocks in his brief role (included keeping the box office in mind) while Manoj Bajpayee is barely allowed to do anything significant apart from talk on the phone & keep looking on the screen. 

Verdict: Since female centric action movies are quite rare in our country, it is unique in that sense. But however on saying that, more often than not Akshay's character seemed to take centre stage as the protector, rather the backup that he is projected to be. It should be able to collect a reasonable initial but once that is over, it will struggle to remain relevant. In short, keep yourself occupied watching the finals between Federer-Nadal at the Miami Masters & Sindhu-Marin at the India Open, rather than investing time for this!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben


Monday, March 27, 2017

Phillauri review: "Desi ghost in a movie with a videshi feel!!!"

It's been a while since I had written the review for a movie & it had more to do with the dearth of movies which tempted me to watch. I did watch "Commando 2" & didn't feel it was worth the time to write something about. With the summer holidays fast approaching, there are a host of movies lined up for the next couple of weeks. This weekend we have Anushka Sharma's "Phillauri" hitting the screens & from the trailer, it looks pretty promising. Hopefully she wont be hurt by mediocre box office returns just like Kohli who had to retire hurt from the last match of the Ind-Aus series.


The film unfolds with Kanan (Suraj Sharma) flying down from Canada to Amritsar to marry his childhood sweetheart, Anu (Mehreen Pirzada). He didn't seem quite enthusiastic about it as he felt that they were rushing into wedlock, much to the dismay of Anu. Both their families were however moving ahead with the arrangements & one of them involved getting Kanan married to a tree to ward off the ill luck which might befall on them in future. It so happened that the tree had the spirit of Sashi (Anushka Sharma) & the ritual carried out meant he was married to her. Incidentally, he was the only one who could see her & as expected, it proves to be the trigger of mayhem. So how was Kanan going to get himself freed from Sashi or was it a figment of his imagination borne out of his weed puffing habits???

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This is Anushka Sharma's second production after "NH10" & she has given the reins of the movie to the debutant director, Anshai Lal. It has been scripted by Anvita Dutt, the thread of which is kinda novel though there is a feel of Hollywood about it towards the climax. Unlike most movies, the first half is its weak point since apart from the initial laughs, hardly anything happens though it did have the scope for it. The second half is interesting when it focuses on the pre-independence love story & just like Imtiaz Ali's "Love Aaj Kal", this segment endears to the audience & I personally loved the climax (even though it was stretched a bit too much). The main drawback of the movie is its length as the subject as such wasnt explored adequately & it lacked substance. 

On the technical side, the CGI was done well, Sameer Uddin's BGM was impressive while Shashwat Sachdev & Jasleen Royal's music was in sync with the mood of the movie. Anushka Sharma has done a fine job along with Diljit Dosanjh, who impressed in the intense scenes. Suraj Sharma (of "Life of Pi" fame) was just about adequate while Mehreen Pirzada seemed apt for the role.

Verdict:  The film is unlikely to make such of an impact at the box office as it will cater only to the multiplex audience. But since the production cost is just 21C, it should be able to break even in a week or so. So would I suggest to watch it??? well I would if you are in a mood for a Hindi movie; but if you are in Kerala watch "Take Off" first before even thinking of anything else!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Rangoon review: "Bleedy hell, it's well made though the story pales in comparison!!!"

The curtains have come down on the 89th Academy Awards & it did have it's share of controversies that everyone would be aware of by now. More often than not, Oscars always featured some World War dramas & this year was no different with Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge". Over the years, Hollywood has come up with numerous WWII movies but it happened to be one event in history that our film makers barely explored even though our troops played a significant part in it. Incidentally, this week we had Vishal Bhardwaj's "Rangoon" which is set during that period & the trailer looked really impressive. So is it one of Vishal's masterpieces???


The Second World Flow was in full swing as the English played an active role in it through their British Indian Army. At the same time, India made strong strides towards Independence under the leadership of Gandhiji with his principle of non-violence. However, Subash Chandra Bose wasn't convinced with Gandhiji's strategy & formed the Indian National Army (INA) with the help of the Japanese. Their combined forces made constant inroads in the Indo-Burma border & many Indian soldiers of British Indian Army were taken as PoW which included Jemadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor), who subsequently managed to escape. Elsewhere in the country, Julia (Kangana Ranaut) was the numero uno female movie star known for her breath taking daredevilry on screen. She worked for Billimoria's production house & was in an affair with Rusi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan) who ran the show. In order to lift the spirits of the forces in the war zone, Major General David Harding (Richard McCabe) coaxes Julia & Rusi to make the trip assuring them of top notch security with Nawab Malik as her personal security. But as one would expect, anything can go wrong in a war zone & that's exactly what happened. 

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Vishal Bharadwaj's credentials as a film maker is well established with premier movies like "Maqbool", "Omkara", "Haider" etc. which showcased a myriad of emotions. In his latest venture as well, there is no dearth of emotions all of which is encompassed within a love story against the backdrop of freedom struggle which he has scripted in the company of Matthew Robbins & Sabrina Dhawan. The war zone has been picturized realistically & the frames looked authentic in terms of art direction and costumes. The main flaw with the movie is the inability to marry the romance with the war backdrop & that would prove to be a deterrent for many in the audience. With regard to the climax, it was hurried, a bit over the top & the CGI used was pretty mediocre. On the technical side, Pankaj Kumar's visuals were fantastic while the combo of Vishal & Gulzar in the music department was excellent. However, Aalaap Majgavkar ought to have done a much better job with the editing.

Kangana absolutely rocked as Julia, whose character was undoubtedly modeled after the yester year stunt queen "Fearless Nadia". She was given a role of substance & she has done justice to it. Equally impressive were her co-stars though Shahid had more screen space. Saif Ali was an apt choice as the suave film maker but he isnt provided as much opportunity as he was given in "Omkara". Richard McCabe has done a decent job as the cunning English General while the rest of the cast were adequate as well.

Verdict: Though the trailer was brilliant & movie was exquisitely made, it still falls short of expectations as the story is rather weak. Another major drawback is the climax which turned out to be rather too melodramatic & over the top. In short, it is likely to struggle at the box office but I would still suggest to check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Ghazi Attack review: "Captivates the audience!!!"

Ever since partition, our nation have constantly seen unrest at its borders as Pakistan never lost an opportunity to needle us. This has led to four fledged battles with them in 1947, 1965, 1971 & 1999; & even though we faced serious casualties, our brave soldiers ensured that we could still feel safe within our country.

The war of 1971 was unique in the sense that it wasn't fought over the Kashmir issue but due to the differences between East & West Pakistan, which eventually led to the formation of Bangladesh. One of the contributing factors for India being part of that war was the sinking of Pakistani submarine, PNS Ghazi off the east coast by INS Rajput. So this week we have Sankalp Reddy's "The Ghazi Attack" hitting the screens which is inspired from that event & hopefully it will be able to give us a gripping account as to what must have happened on that day.


The year is 1971 & India was keeping a close watch on Pakistan who was flexing their muscles on its brothers in East Pakistan, who was fighting for liberation. In order to send supplies to its forces, Pakistan decides to use the sea route but in order to do so they had to negate the threat posted by INS Vikrant. The task is entrusted to Commander Razaq (Rahul Singh) & his crew of PNS Ghazi. Indian Intelligence gets wind of it & the Eastern Naval Command at Vishakhapatnam assign S21 under the leadership of Captain Rannvijay Singh to patrol the region. As Rannvijay is known for his impulsive, hot headed nature, Lt Commander Arjun Varma (Rana Daggubati) is also accorded equal responsibilities to ensure orders are followed as per the book. This naturally causes sparks to fly between the two as Executive Officer, Devraj (Atul Kulkarni) plays peace broker. In due time, S21 locates Ghazi but how they went about their task with two contrast characters at the helm forms the crux of the movie. 

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Scripted & directed by debutant Sankalp Reddy, "The Ghazi Attack" is the first submarine war movie that has been made in our country. With regard to the story, it was mentioned in the credits itself that it is a fictional creation of an incident that has been shrouded in mystery. Whatever might be the case, the story is brilliantly conveyed & executed as well. The tension is palpable & provides an edge of the seat experience for the audience in majority of the sequences in the second half. Though I found the patriotic fervour a bit too overpowering & artificial in the end, it had all the other emotions in apt measure & the director made sure that he didnt squeeze in any romantic angle or song-dance sequence into the proceedings. The interiors of the submarine were well depicted but the special effects & Madhi's visuals could have been better.

Rana Daggubati has acted in a mature & restrained manner which was apt for the character. Kay Kay Menon was excellent as the impulsive Captain who didnt care a shit about orders. Atul Kulkarni also deserves praise for a convincing performance while the rest of the cast seemed adequate. The reason for including Taapsee defies logic as she had nothing to do apart from look shell shocked in the doorways.

Verdict: Having seen movies like "Crimson Tide", "K19", etc, this one would feel amateurish at times, but it is absolutely unfair to make such a comparison due to the disparity in production costs. However, on saying that Sankalp succeeds in making a movie which is both engrossing & interesting. It might not take the box-office by storm but it's definitely worth checking out. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben






Monday, February 13, 2017

Singham 3 review: "Roars louder & ticks most boxes needed as a potboiler!!!"

"Singham", the most popular franchise in the Tamil film industry which has even inspired Bollywood to recreate it is back with the third installment. The latest sequel was supposed to have released during Diwali but it got postponed due to various factors before finding itself a suitable date last weekend. Even as the political situation in Tamil Nadu is in limbo, the makers would be hoping that "Singham 3" would roar longer & louder than its predecessors. So will this mass masala entertainer endear to one & all or just the fans???


The Andhra Pradesh Assembly was rattled by the murder of City Commissioner Ramakrishna (Jayaprakash) & the Home Minister, K Satyanarayana (Sarath Babu) proposes to entrust the case to DCP Durai Singham (Suriya) of Tamil Nadu police force. All the legal formalities are cleared in a jiffy & Singham takes up charge in Vishakhapatnam under CBI. As expected, he ruffles the feathers of Madhusudhana Reddy (Sharat Saxena), the main gangster who was behind the murder of the commissioner & Singham moves in swiftly to nab the culprits. However, he soon realizes that the mastermind behind the murder wasn't Reddy & the reasons behind it was much more serious than he had anticipated.

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Hari is synonymous for masala blockbusters with movies like "Saamy" & "Singham" series adorning his resume. If "Singham" & "Singham 2" had the protagonist growing in stature from the one who was hesitant to move away from his family to the one who was proficient in dealing with whatever challenges that were thrown at him in Thoothukudi. In the latest sequel, he is a super cop whose conquests have reached the ears of the neighboring state & seeks his help. Hari has scripted it as well & incorporated whatever is required for a masala entertainer. The core subject is unique & deserves praise with over the top action sequences which would have even made Chinese martial art flicks pale in comparison (though to be frank I enjoyed it). But the film has flaws as well with the most significant being the antagonist, who is undoubtedly the weakest among the lot as he lacks the aura to stand up to Singham. Even the comedy sequences were unbearable & the scenes with Shruti Hasan were cringe worthy.

Suriya is heart & soul of "Singham" series which is evident in each & every shot. He has done utmost justice to the role & carries the movies on his shoulders. As mentioned earlier, the antagonist played by Thakur Anoop Singh didnt quite match upto being a formidable opponent like Prakash Raj. Anushka Shetty had a miniscule role which she has done aptly while Shruti Hasan & Soori was pathetic. With regard to the rest, Sarath Saxena, Robo Shankar, Sarath Babu etc didnt have much to do, but they were fine. In the technical department, Haris Jayaraj disappoints with his music while V T Vijay & T S Jay was successful in giving the movie a racy feel. Even Priyan deserves praise for the visuals.

Verdict: The latest installment is bigger & louder than the prequels & in terms of quality, the second best in the franchise. It ticks most of the boxes that is expected of a mass entertainer as Suriya rocks with his brilliant performance. There are surely flaws & will be a pain to the ears at most times, though it delivers what it promises. In short, it wont hurt to give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben