Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Aramm review: "Realistic take on the plight of the poor in the socio-political environment!!!"

Our planet has experienced unprecedented changes in the past decade or so, primarily due to the utter negligence of the human race. Pollution has touched alarming levels across the globe with our very own capital creating headlines when the PM 2.5 particles in air touched 30 times the WHO safety limits last week. The story is equally bleak when it come to water as rampant pollution & climate change has made it a scarce commodity in many parts. This has led to numerous bore wells being dug in such places which at times left open has led to several causalities. This is the angle that Gopi Nainar explored with his "Aramm" that had hit the screens this weekend.


Madhivadhani IAS (Nayanthara) is the district collector of a coastal region in TN that is reeling under severe water crisis. She was called in for inquiry by her superior over her handling of a rescue mission that had ruffled the feathers of the political clan & potentially endangered the life of a child. The rescue mission was for a little girl, Dhansika (Mahalakshmi) who had fallen into an abandoned bore well that was left open by irresponsible contractors. Her father, Yugendran (Ramachandran Durairaj) was a painter who struggled to make their ends meet while his wife Sumathi (Sunu Lakshmi) did her bit with some odd jobs as well. Apart from Dhansika, they also had a son named Muthu (Ramesh) who aspired to be a swimming champion. On the ill-fated day, she fell into the bore well as she was playing with other kids & Madhivadhani swings into action. However, despite being the collector she realised that she was trying to make things work in a system where most of the people in power were corrupt. Amidst all this hungama, the no-nonsense female tried her best to rescue the girl but it was easier said than done.

Directed by the debutant, Gopi Nainar, it is a realistic take on the plight of the poor who gets shoved around by the rich & powerful. It's a fact that irrespective of whoever is in power, the benefits rarely percolates to the lower economic strata of society. We have been pushing our boundaries with our successful space missions which is definitely essential, but what's the point if you cant provide the basic necessities to all your citizens. All of this has been effectively highlighted by Gopi, who had penned the script as well against the backdrop of a rescue mission. Actually Bharathan's "Malootty" in Malayalam is also about a similar incident. The visuals by Om Prakash were exquisite while the other aspects were fine as well.

Nayanthara was brilliant as the empathetic & straight forward district collector. She just emphasised the fact that she is indeed the 'Lady Superstar', whether the role is glamorous or not. Each of the other artists have done their part well be it Ramachandran, Sunu, Mahalakshmi or Ramesh. 

Verdict: A socio-political drama which is relevant to our times with a thriller weaved into the plot will interest the audience for sure. It is likely to be a winner at the box-office as positive word of mouth should work in its favour. In short, check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, November 13, 2017

Qarib Qarib Singlle review: "Engaging rom-com showcased over a road trip!!!"

Over the years we have had numerous Malayalam movies being remade in Hindi which has fared satisfactorily at the box-office. However, not many technicians from the Malayalam industry has been able to make a mark in Bollywood except for a few like Priyadarshan, Sabu Cyril etc. It's even tougher for an artist to break into Bollywood, which is the reason why very few appear in more than a single movie. In recent times, Padmapriya appeared in "Chef" & this week we have Parvathy in Tanuja Chandra's "Qarib Qarib Singlle" along with the dependable Irrfan Khan. To be frank, they did seem like an odd couple at first glance & it remains to be seen whether their combination will endear to the audience???


Jaya (Parvathy) is a widow who has been single for quite a while that her friends tells her that she must have turned virgin. She was rather unsure as to whether she wanted to be in a relationship again but decided to give it a try courtesy through an online dating site. This led to her meeting up with Yogi (Irrfan Khan), a rather loud, instinctive, no holds barred type of character who considered himself a worthy Urdu poet. In simple words, their personalities were pretty much like chalk & cheese. As expected, Jaya wasnt keen to take it beyond their first meeting but Yogi's charm & her urge to meet his exes whom he claimed still loved him, makes her embark on a journey with him. Little did they realise that it was a journey towards their self discovery.

Tanuja Chandra is a well known director who has been off the radar for quite a while. However, mention of movies like "Dushman" & "Sangharsh" gives us ample proof about her capabilities. Her latest venture is about two charmingly different mature individuals finding each other in the premise of a road trip. Over the course of their trip from Hardwar to Jaipur & finally to Gangtok, we are hooked onto the manner in which their equation with each other changes. Kudos for that goes to the script by Tanuja's mother. Kamna who has movies like "Chandni" ,"1942-A Love Story" etc to her credit. Equally impressive was the screenplay & dialogues by Ghazal Dhaliwal. With regard to other technical aspects, all of them were fine especially the music by Rochak Kohli & Vishal Mishra which was soothing to the ears & didnt impede the flow of the movie. 

As usual, Irrfan was brilliant as the loud Yogi coz in the hands of a lesser artist; it would have come across as rather artificial & superficial. This makes it really difficult for his co-star to match upto him, but Parvathy (whose acting credentials in Malayalam & Tamil speaks volumes about her) matched him step to step in pretty much all the sequences. As for the rest, they have done their parts aptly in their brief screen space they were allotted.

Verdict: It is undoubtedly one of the finest rom-coms in recent times as the characters endears to the audience. An impressive script & odd looking couple enacted by brilliant performers, makes it a winner for ones who loves normal relatable movies. It is not a money spinning mass flick but you can rest assured you will be entertained. In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok review: "Both the audience & producers will be in splits!!!"

Just a fortnight more before the much awaited "Justice League" hits the screens, but before DC could make their move; Marvel has come out with the sequel of the "Thor" series. This is the 17th movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe & as per the weekend collection reports, it has taken the box-office by storm. To be frank, I have been so engrossed in the build up towards "Justice League", that the Marvel trailer didnt quite blow my socks off. However, when I checked it out; I have to admit it was indeed the most hilarious Marvel movie to date.


A couple of years have passed since the battle of Sokovia & Thor (Chris Hemsworth) was imprisoned by the fire demon, Surtur in Asgard. The God of Thunder manages to escape from the clutches of Surtur, who claimed that Asgard will be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarok when his crown was put into the Eternal Fire. Thor averts the impending doom (or so he believed) & goes in search of his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) along with his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Based on what Surtur had said & with the help of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), they locate their father on Earth. It is then Odin reveals to his sons, that he is dying which in turn will lead to the rise of his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett). She had fought shoulder to shoulder with him on various conquests but her evil designs made him imprison her. As he predicted, his demise releases Hela from prison & she lands in Asgard to claim the throne. Both Thor & Loki are forced to flee from there as their efforts to stop her proved futile & they end up on the planet Sakaar where the former gets imprisoned by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). How Thor escapes from there & forms a team along the lines of Avengers, to rescue Asgard forms the crux of the story.

As in the case of the prequels, the latest edition of "Thor" is directed by yet another individual, who happens to be Taika Waititi. The Kiwi is known for his horror comedy "What we do in the Shadows" (which I havent watched) & has brought that humorous streak to this venture. It turned out to be the USP of the movie as the screenplay by Eric Pearson was hilarious from the start to the end. The general mood of the movie was along the lines of "Deadpool" & it would be fair to say that it would totally entertain the audience. In terms of the plot, it's pretty engaging though the highlight definitely is the interactions between the characters such as Thor, Hulk etc. All the technical aspects were top notch & each and every individual in charge deserves praise.

Chris Hemsworth was awesome as he embraced the humour element with ease & gives a smashing performance. His partner in crime, Mark Ruffalo aced his part as Taika utilised him effectively by giving us ample exposure to both Banner & Hulk. Tom Hiddleston was rather underused, though in the opportunity provided he has done justice. Cate Blanchett was a natural for the role while Jeff Goldblum rocked as the Grandmaster. Among others, Tessa Thompson was fine while Taika's portrayal of Korg was a scream.

Verdict: There are no two words about it, except that it is an absolute entertainer. The plot as such might not seem too heavy. but when you have a screenplay as engaging; there isnt much to complain. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 4.25/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Ittefaq review: "Sluggish early on but finishes impressively!!!"

November is here & this month boasts of some impressive movies lined up that I have been eagerly looking forward to for quite a while. Among them is "Ittefaq" which has hit the screens this weekend & has got Akshaye Khanna in the lead along with Siddharth Malhotra & Sonakshi Sinha. Interestingly, it is produced by SRK & Karan Johar among others; & from the looks of it, it seems like a stylized murder mystery. So will it do justice to the genre that it proclaims & give our money's worth???


The story unfolds on a rainy Mumbai night with the police hot on the heels of Vikram Sethi (Siddharth Malhotra), acclaimed writer based in Britain; for the suspected murder of his wife. He had flown down to Mumbai along with his wife for the launch of his second book, but before that event could materialize, his wife gets murdered in the hotel. Naturally Vikram was the prime suspect & that argument bore weight when he evade the polices. He eventually meets with an accident & seeks shelter in an upscale apartment which belonged to the lawyer, Shekhar & his wife, Maya (Sonakshi Sinha). Soon enough, the police tracks him down & discover Shekhar being murdered in the residence. The case was entrusted upon Inspector Dev Verma (Akshaye Khanna) & he had to solve both the murders in the span of three days. Even though, the initial circumstantial evidence painted Vikram to be the culprit; it wasnt exactly an open & shut case especially since both Vikram & Maya narrated different versions as to what transpired in the apartment. So were both the murders mere coincidence or was it connected??? 

The project has been helmed by debutant Abhay Chopra, who as some of you guys might have suspected belongs to the famed Chopra lineage. So it's quite natural for him to be influenced by his accomplished relatives which might be the reason why he had decided to remake Yash Chopra's (uncle) "Ittefaq" (1969). The basic premise is the same except for a couple of changes that Abhay has incorporated in the screenplay. Even though it has a running time of just 107 minutes, the early part is rather sluggish as the script fails to impart the urgency. However, the latter half picks up the pace & culminates in a predictable yet thrilling climax. Michal Luka's frames were exquisite while Nithin Baid's editing could have been crisper.

Akshaye Khanna was fantastic as the cop which he underplays it convincingly both in his body language & dialogue delivery. The same cant be said about the other two leads namely Siddharth & Sonakhi. The former looked rather unsure early on & lacked conviction, but from the second half onwards he was bang on in conveying his emotions. However, Sonakshi's role didnt quite have any variations which meant it was a rather one dimensional performance that wont make the audience connect.

Verdict: The genre & lack of huge stars, invariably means it will be a slow mover at the box office. Whatever it manages to garner will be solely based on whether the audience were hooked onto the murder mystery. Frankly speaking, it's a movie that deserves praise for the effort it has gone into it as it will surely interest the audience for large parts. In short, give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben 






Sunday, October 22, 2017

Secret Superstar review: "One of the finest portrayal of mother-daughter relationship!!!"

Whenever we talk about Aamir Khan movies, we invariably associate it to be a creation that breeds quality. This is exactly the reason why his movies which appears once in a couple of years are received with much fanfare & expectations across the globe. His last release was "Dangal" which smashed all Bollywood box office collection records. However, his latest release "Secret Superstar" which is bank rolled by his production house has him in a supporting role. The trailer & the music has been impressive and with Aamir involved in the project the expectations are nigh high.


Insia Malik (Zaira Wasim) is a 10th grade student with a passion for music who resided in Vadodara with her family. She dreamt of becoming a singer & with the talent that she possessed it wasnt a dream that was impossible to achieve. With a loving mother, Najma (Meher Vij) who constantly encouraged her & a doting younger brother, it felt like she had the freedom to pursue her dreams. But it was easier said than done, especially with an abusive father who lost his temper at the smallest of reasons & inflicted physical torture on his wife. Since her father detested her musical leanings, she decides to upload her music videos on Youtube under the name "Secret Superstar" as she was clad in a burqa so that her identity remained unknown. In due time, her videos became viral & she received offers from the music industry to become a playback singer. But will she have the courage to reveal her identity lest her father knows about it???

This is the directorial debut of Advait Chandan after having served assistant for projects like "Dhobi Ghat" etc. He had taken on the responsibility of penning the script as well which focused on the bond between mother & daughter against the backdrop of dreams & domestic abuse. Despite the presence of a huge star like Aamir Khan, the director made sure that the focus is on Zaira & how along with Meher they tide over the challenges in their lives. Almost all the tracks by Amit Trivedi was in sync with the proceedings & didnt seem like a sore thumb at any point, with "Nachdi Phira" rendered by Meghna Mishra being my personal favourite. Equally praise worthy were the lyrics by Kausar Munir while Anil Mehta's visuals were fine as well.

Both Meher Vij & Zaira Wasim were equally brilliant & it would be hard to choose between the two. They have done utmost justice to their roles as their performance endears to our heart. They were adequately supported by Raj Arjun as Insia's father while Tirth Sharma (as Chintan) & Kabir Sajid (as Guddu) were excellent. Last but not the least, what do I say about Aamir Khan??? This guy is an absolute legend & brings his A-game whatever might be the role that he takes up. He was fantastic as Shakti Kumar, the arrogant lecherous conceited yet harmless music director with a heart of gold. 

Verdict: This is undoubtedly one of the finest movies that had been picturised on the bond shared between a mother & daughter. It might not take the box-office by storm as it is not a flashy entertainer. The protagonist's path towards stardom might seem a tad too easy but you can rest assured that the screenplay will moisten your eyes & also bring a smile to your lips. In short dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.75/5

Regards...Ben

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Mersal review: "Entertaining mass masala despite the lag & cliched plot!!!"

One of the most eagerly awaited Tamil movie of the year is here & it belongs to none other than Thalapathy (seems like he has graduated) Vijay. As expected, the bombastic release of "Mersal" happened on Diwali giving the public an additional option to celebrate the festival of lights. Ever since the trailer was released, the fans were swooning over it & to add to the excitement, AR Rahman had created some peppy numbers which has become chart busters. Seems like Atlee knows the pulse of the audience & has presented Thalapathy in all his glory. But will the story-line be worthwhile or be just run-of-the mill type???


Keeping with the tradition of mass masalas, the film unfolds with Dr. Maaran (Vijay) being arrested by Officer Ratnavel (Satyaraj) in connection to the abduction of certain hospital staffs. It was all the more surprising as Maaran popularly known as the "5 Rs doctor" was the darling of the masses for his humanitarian service which in turn bestowed him with prestigious awards. So why would he do something like this??? To add further twist to proceedings, the interrogation throws light on the fact that he was a renowned magician as well. But his last performance in Paris had led to the death of a Chennai based doctor Arjun Zachariah (Hareesh Peradi), on the back of an act that went horribly wrong. Ironically, both of them had a verbal spar early on when he had turned down Dr. Arjun's offer to join his hospital. So was his death indeed an accident & if it wasnt, why did he do it???

This was Atlee's second film in a row with Vijay, with his previous directorial venture being "Theri". He had written the script along with Ramana Girivasan & the core subject that it deals with is the corruption in the medical profession. In addition, he had also taken the services of K V Vijayendra Prasad of "Baahubali" fame for the screenplay & there are a couple of sequences that reminds us of it. Atlee has added the necessary ingredients & packaged it in such a manner that it maximized the star appeal of Vijay. Since he had assisted Shankar in a couple of projects, it was interesting to observe his influence such as the intro scene of Rajni in "Shivaji". It is a typical mass entertainer that moves along a decent pace in the first half & lags quite a bit in the second half. On the technical side, the film is just brilliant be it the mesmerizing colourful visuals by  G K Vishnu or the scintillating BGM and tracks by Rahman. However, the same cant be said about Reuben who ought to have made the movie crisper 

Vijay is the heart & soul of the movie and he has rocked the screen with his energy & charisma. He has done a fine job as the magician while as the doctor, he didnt quite fit the bill. The role of the villain is entrusted upon S J Surya & he has done a decent job. There is a huge star cast in the movie but hardly any of them gets significant screen space except for Nitya Menon, who despite her weight looked fabulous & did utmost justice to her meaty role. There are others such as Kajal Aggarwal & Samatha Akkineni, whose presence made no sense at all apart just lengthen the run time. Vadivelu & Satyaraj is present throughout but didnt get to do much while Kovai Sarala was a torture the brief period she featured. 

Verdict: It has already set records in many parts of the world with an earth shattering initial. Despite the evident lag, "over the top" stunt sequences & cliched revenge plot, it still manages to entertain the audience. These kind of movies needs to be watched solely for the entertainment value & in that aspect it was spot on. In short, an apt movie for the festive season!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Newton review: "Clash between idealism & realism makes it an apt choice for Oscar!!!"

Diwali, the festival of lights is here & the film industry will be hoping to make hay when the sun shines with the release of big banner movies across the length & breadth of the country. Hence there werent any significant releases last weekend & the only programmes on Tv that caught my fancy was the Shanghai Masters & the Celebrity Classico. It was then that I recollected an article about a fortnight back which mentioned "Newton" as India's entry for the Oscars. Even though it's been a while since it released, I thought to write about it as I am sure many of my friends wouldn't have watched it.


Newton aka Nutan Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) is a green horned government clerk who wore his honesty as a badge of honour. He was assigned the position of presiding officer entrusted with the task of conducting elections in one of the polling station located in the jungle of Chattisgarh. As it was in the Naxal hotbed region, it was always going to be a uphill task that Newton soon realised much to his dismay. Neither did the natives had any clue about the candidates or the election procedure nor were they keen to vote as they feared backlash from the Naxalites. Even the security force led by Aatma Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) didnt seem so enthusiastic with the idea of election though he made arrangements for Newton & his team. In such adverse circumstances, was it even possible to conduct a fair & free election???

Directed by Amit Masurkar, "Newton" is a political satire that has been making headlines in the last couple of months bagging awards at Berlinale 2017 & Hong Kong International Film Festival. It is his second venture after Sulemani Keeda which by the way I havent watched. Apart from direction, he had also penned the script while Mayank Tewari had assisted him in the screenplay. It was liberally sprinkled with humour but not at the cost of trivializing or mocking the realities . The main thread is the question whether the democratic process of election that we are all proud of is actually as fair as we believe it be. It throws light on the plight on tribals & downtrodden who dont see any change in their lives irrespective of whoever comes to power as they are virtually shoved around by the Naxalites & the security forces. Kudos to Masurkar for the brilliant casting which has enhanced the overall impact. 

We never associate music which such type of movies but both the tracks by Rachita Arora were soulful with the lyrics by Irshad Kamil & Varun Grover deserving praise. Even though it runs for just 106 minutes, some portions does lag quite a bit that Shweta Mathew ought to have taken care of. As far as performances are concerned, Rajkummar Rao continues to blow us away with his acting skills. Whatever might be the role, this dude just brings his A game to the table each & every time. Equally praise worthy were the performances by Pankaj Tripathi (who is on a roll this year), Anjali Patil, Raghubir Yadav & Sanjay Mishra.

Verdict: Being a low budget movie, it has already reaped profits at the box office. But it deserves to been seen by even more people as it is an eye opener to the election process in conflict regions. It might be a tad slow for quite a few especially in the latter half but you can rest assured that it is definitely worth the time spent. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben




Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Solo review: "Interesting anthology that hits as well as misses!!!"

It's been a rather eventful week for Indian sports with our nation playing hosts to the FIFA under 17 World Cup. Though our boys might have lost, they played admirably against Colombia & to a certain extent against US as well. Just as eagerly awaited was Dulquer's "Solo" which released to much fanfare on Friday. The hype was understandable as the trailer was catchy & the music was already creating waves in the charts. But will Bejoy Nambiar's unique brand of film making appeal to the masses???


The film is a combination of four segments which focuses on the elements of water, air, fire & earth and how each protagonist named after different names of Lord Shiva is a representation of it. The first segment was the World of Shekhar (water) which focused on the relationship between the long haired stammerer Shekhar & the beautiful yet blind Radhika (Dhansika). This was followed by the World of Trilok (air), a veterinary surgeon by profession who loses his wife in an accident. The third segment was the World of Shiva (fire), a cold blooded gangster who goes on the rampage after his father gets killed by a Mumbai based crime lord. The last segment was the World of Rudra (earth) where he dons the role of an army officer who is madly in love with Akshara (Neha Sharma), the daughter of a Brigadier much against the wishes of both the parents. 

The craftsman behind this interesting project is Bejoy Nambiar who had given us movies like "David", "Shaitan" etc in the past. Scripted by himself, there is no doubt that it is a unique anthology that impresses for large parts. As far as the story is concerned, all the segments felt fine though the climax in the last part came across as rather unintentionally hilarious. Personally, I felt the first segment was the best & it imparted the feel of a Mani Ratnam movie. When it comes to the technical aspects, the visuals were absolutely brilliant for which Girish Gangadharan, Madhu Neelakandan & Sejal Shah deserves praise. Even the music which was the collaboration of a host of musicians was equally impressive.

It was a movie that gave ample opportunity to Dulquer to showcase his talent. But was he able to do justice to it? Well his limitations was pretty much evident when he essayed the role of Shekhar as he didnt look convincing with the stammer. He absolutely rocked as Trilok & Shiva while Rudra was kinda average. As far as the female leads are concerned, Dhaniska was fantastic along with Sruthi Hariharan while Neha Sharma & Arthi Venkatesh were just about ok. There were a host of other characters as well such as Suhasini, Nassar, Ann Augustine & they have done their brief roles aptly.

Verdict: Despite having the biggest ever Malayalam release having opened at around 225 screens, it didnt quite have the bombastic initial as expected. Being an experimental type of movie, it wont quite appeal to the masses & to make matters worse, the Rudra segment understandably didnt go down well with most of the audience. However, the other segments has been crafted well & is well worth a watch. In short, do check it out!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chef review: "Falls short of being a mouth watering delicacy!!!"

Food has an undeniable part in Indian culture as it occupies centre stage whatever might be the occasion be it everyday life, weddings or festivals. Being a foodie, I have always loved to sample various cuisines & thanks to Mom, I would consider my culinary skills to be quite good. This is the very reason why I love reality shows like "Masterchef Australia" & look upto Chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver to name a few. So when Saif's "Chef" was released this weekend, I was excited to check it out despite being a remake. Hmm....will it be able to whet our appetite???


Roshan Kalra (Saif Ali Khan) is a three Michelin star chef who worked at an upscale restaurant in New York. But the spark that had elevated him to this position had diminished & it started to show in his food as well. When one of the customers did question the quality of his food, he loses his cool & ended up losing his job. On the advice of his friend, he returns to India to visit his son Arman (Svar Kamble) & ex-wife Radha (Padmapriya) in Cochin. It is at this time that the idea of a food truck is mooted by Radha's friend Biju (Milind Soman) which Roshan doesnt buy into initially. However, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to re-discover his passion for food & spent quality with his son. 

As mentioned earlier, this is the official remake of Jon Fraveau's "Chef" & Raja Krishna Menon had taken on the task. He is best known for "Airlift" though he had garnered critical acclaim for his debut venture "Barah Aana" as well. In his latest effort, he deserves praise for the apt casting but his direction left a lot to be desired. The biggest flaw is undoubtedly the lack of highlight on the food which was surprising especially since that was meant to be a character as well. Anywaz brownie points for capturing the father-son relationship realistically. Priya Seth has done a fine job with the cinematography while Raghu Dixit & Amaal Mallik has given us decent tracks. 

Saif Ali Khan has done a fantastic job as the chef going through a crisis & seemed a natural for the role. Padmapriya has always been a fine performer but for the people in the North, she is a new face & will surely be impressed by her performance. Svar Kamble was both adorable & talented while Mr. Ironman Milind Soman deserves praise for his brief role. Each & every artist in this movie have done their parts aptly which has gone a long way in elevating the movie that has been let down by the script.

Verdict: It's the kind of movie that is unlikely to create waves at the box office & would appeal only to the urban audience. Even then, it doesnt quite match upto the original nor with other excellent food based movies that we have such as "The Lunchbox", "Ustaad Hotel", "Nala Damayanthi" etc. It had the potential to become a mouth watering delicacy, but is let down by a rather bland script. Despite that, you can give it a try as it is definitely a feel good movie!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Judwaa 2 review: "Varun manages to rock in this rather stale remake!!!"

Finally the long weekend has come to an end on Monday with the 148th birth anniversary of the father of our nation. This festive weekend in Bollywood saw the release of "Judwaa 2", the reboot of the superhit "Judwaa" that released two decades back. Over the years, we have seen numerous remakes being made & more often than not, it has bit the dust with "Aag" being a classic example. Well as per box office reports it has garnered a thumping initial. So what made it click with the audience???


Since most of us have watched Salman's "Judwaa", I dont think there is need for me to elaborate on the plot. Anywaz for those whose grey cells have started to fail, Prem & Raja (Varun Dhawan) were twins who got separated at birth due to the evil design of the smuggler, Charles (Zakir Hussain). Prem grew up with his parents in London while Raja was raised in the slums of Mumbai. But destiny brings Raja to London which leads to mistaken identities & comedy of errors. 

In the 90's, David Dhawan was the director with the Midas's touch as his brand of slapstick comedies was lapped up by the audience. But with time, his powers waned due to his inability to change with the times. His last movie was "Main Tera Hero" in 2014 that had his son in the lead & he has opted for his son yet again to reprise Salman's role in "Judwaa 2". There is hardly any difference between the two movies as it is a scene to scene copy of the original, though Sajid-Farhad has managed to sprinkle humour with some hare brained dialogues apart from numerous sexist & cringe worthy ones. Ayananka Bose deserves praise for the visuals while the music was kinda average after all two of the stand out tracks belonged to the original.

So this brings us to the most important question & that is whether Varun was able to match Salman's performance. There is no doubt that Varun was the right choice for the role & he actually outperforms Salman for most parts. But when it comes to goofiness & innocence, Varun was found to fall short. Both Taapsee Pannu & Jacqueline Fernandez didnt have much to do apart from shake a leg & serve as love interests for the protagonists. As for the rest, Rajpal Yadav's character was unbearable, Anupam Kher was fine while Pavan Malhotra was wasted.

Verdict: Well the box-office numbers claims that it has the third highest opening weekend in 2017 & is on its way to the 100 C mark. Frankly speaking, the film didnt impress me as it felt outdated despite Varun's sincere performance. This is not to imply that "Judwaa" was a great movie in the first place though it catered to the tastes of the audience in that time period. In short, if you are in the mood for pea brained comedies, you can give it a try or else forget it!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spyder review: "Seems like a desi version of Dark Knight!!!"

India is a land of festivals as each state has its own share of cultures & beliefs. It's a long weekend in our country as we celebrate Dussehra & Durga Puja which is essentially the triumph of good over evil. If the former implies the Lord Ram's victory over Ravan, then the latter is about the slaying of Mahisasura by Goddess Durga, So apart from the goodies to savour, we have a couple of big budget releases across the nation. The most significant among the lot is A R Murugadoss's bilingual "Spyder" which has got Mahesh Babu in the lead. The trailer was pretty stylish & it seems poised to take the the box office by storm.


Shiva (Mahesh Babu) works at the Intelligence Bureau where he eavesdrops on telephonic conversations that could pose threat to the public. He did that with the help of the software that he had developed which tracked down suspicious calls. Though overqualified for the job, he cherished the experience as it enabled him to save numerous lives. But all of that changed when his action led to the death of his friend, a police constable whom he had requested to help a girl in distress. Soon it became evident that their deaths was the act of a serial killer. But who was this psychopath & how many had become victims to him who lusted for the wails & cries of the people in pain.

It's been a while since Murugadoss had showcased his directorial skills in Tamil/Telugu with the last one being the blockbuster "Kaththi" in 2014, though he had made Sonakshi Sinha's "Akira" last year. The main reason why I (most people) love his movies is the fact that he is adept when it comes to packing content with style. In his latest venture, he has showcased it as a battle of wits between the hero & villain with the latter given the freedom to run amok. It might not be intentional, but quite a few sequences had an uncanny resemblance with "Dark Knight". The backstory for the antagonist was chilling but it lacked the finesse & logic in many parts of the latter half. Santhosh Sivan as always has impressed while Harris Jayaraj has given a couple of hummable tracks though some did pose a speed breakers. However, the VFX effects were pretty mediocre to say the least.

Mahesh Babu was an apt choice as the protagonist coz it needed someone who is subtle yet effective & he has aced it. But it was S J Surya who absolutely bowled me over as he was brilliant as the manic killer. Rakul Preet singh was just for eye candy while Bharath was fine in the cameo. As for the rest, none of them had much screen space.

Verdict: There is no doubt that it will have a whirlwind opening at the box office considering the big names which are associated with the project. It will surely satiate the audience with its edge of the seat stuff for most parts. But will it rank as one of the finest thrillers ever? Unfortunately no....though it did have the scope for it but Murugadoss went kinda overboard towards the climax. However, despite that it's still worth a watch!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Haseena Parkar review: "Hardly any insights into the biography!!!"

Less than a week back, Iqbal Kaskar the brother of the dreaded gangster Dawood Ibrahim was picked up by the Mumbai Police on extortion charges. Incidentally, he was arrested from the apartment of his late sister Haseena Parkar in Nagpada. Call it an unbelievable coincidence since the biographical film on Haseena Parkar released this weekend. Since I barely had any idea about her, I was interested to know as to how she became "Appa" & the "Queen of Nagpada". So does it captivate the audience??


The film unfolds in 2007, when Haseena (Shraddha Kapoor) the sister of Dawood (Siddhanth Kapoor) had to present herself in High Court for extortion charges leveled against her. Her lawyer's defense was that she was the victim of her brother's actions & that she had no hand whatsoever in any crime. The prosecutor tried to prove the charges to no avail as Haseena had an answer to all the accusations. She elaborates on various happenings of her life & as to how her brother moved on to the dark side. So was she innocent as she saidor was she indeed the head of her brother's shady business deals in the country???

Apoorva Lakhia is a rather well known name when it comes to making movies based on terrorism & underworld. Though to be brutally honest, more often than not it's all slick with hardly any substance. His last venture was the abysmal remake of "Zanjeer" & his latest venture is no different. The blame also lies equally on Suresh Nair who had penned the script & screenplay. Apart from the initial build up, the movie is bereft of anything that keeps us invested in it. There is no twists or turns, nor anything as such that a person who has no idea about the protagonist cant guess. On the technical side, there is nothing to fault as such be it the visuals by Fasahat Khan or the music by Sachin-Jigar.

Shraddha Kapoor might have got the first meaty role of her career but the script didnt offer much opportunity to showcase what she is capable of. Apart from her initial appearance, there is nothing that makes us go ga-ga. Her brother Siddhanth as Dawood wasnt able to impart the fear that we associate with that character. As for the rest, Ankur Bhatia, Rajesh Tailang, Priyanka Sethia have done their parts aptly.

Verdict: As the trailer imparts a dark feel, the takers will be less for sure & to make it worse, the script is mediocre. It fails to fascinate the audience with the events that unfold in the narration. In short, it will tank at the box office!!!

Rating: 2/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, September 18, 2017

Simran review: "Kangana nails her role though the screenplay doesnt quite!!!"

This weekend could be termed as the week of "Girl Power" as we had Sindhu making the nation proud with her exploits at the Korean Super Series. Even in Bollywood, we have a women centric movie with Kangana Ranaut, the reigning queen in the lead. There were numerous controversies leading to the release of the movie with regard to her statements on her male counterparts & nepotism. Whatever might be the case, the trailer of "Simran" seems to convey that it is going to be yet another gem from Kangana. With Hansal Mehta calling the shots, the quality of the movie wont be in question. But will it be able to satiate the audience???


Praful Patel (Kangana Ranaut) is a divorced, independent Gujarati female who worked in the hospitality industry in Atlanta. As her parents constantly nagged her to get hitched, she has been on the lookout for a suitable apartment where she could move into. After years of hard work, she finally managed to hoard sufficient savings along with a loan from the bank that would enable her to get a place of her choice. But before she could seal the deal, she goes on to Sin City with her cousin. Just like it has happened to many, she loiters into the casino & gets hooked onto the dealer's table once she starts winning. Hoping to cash in on more money, she gambles the next day as well & that's when reality hits her hard as she looses whatever she had including the deposit to her apartment. Her desperation to win it back makes her borrow money from a loan shark. Little did she realise that she was in an absolute quagmire which would change her life forever. 

Hansal Mehta's credentials as a director is well established with movies like "Aligarh", "Shahid", "City Lights" etc to his credit. His latest venture is loosely based on Sandeep Kaur aka "Bombshell Bandit", a Punjabi Sikh nurse who is presently serving jail time in the US for robbing several banks. The story by Apurva Asrani as such is interesting especially the complex character of Kangana that is intriguing, childish & crazy all rolled into one. But his screenplay falters in the second half, as the robbery, police investigation & climax seemed rather silly & preposterous. All the technical aspects has been handled adequately be it Anuj Rakesh's cinematography, Antara Lahiri's editing & Sachin Jigar's music.

Coming to performances, it was a one woman show with Kangana being absolutely brilliant. Her goofiness in Vegas reminded me of Mr. Bean which was spot on. Equally impressive was her ability to convey her vulnerability & establishes her position as one of the finest actresses in the industry. Since the story basically revolved around her, none of the other characters barely got much screen space but even then Sohum Shah as Sameer deserves praise along with characters like Praful's parents & the bar attender in Vegas. 

Verdict: Well it's not a type of movie that will be lapped up by the masses but it will have the urban audience interested. There is no doubt that the film has flaws in the screenplay just like the protagonist. But if you ask me, Kangana's performance definitely makes it worth watching. In short, do check it out!!!!

Rating: 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vivegam review: "Slick flick which defies vivegam for most parts!!!"

It's been a rather eventful last couple of days with Sindhu & Saina making the nation proud with their exploits at the World Badminton Championships. At the same time, the incidents that unfolded at Sirsa & Panchkula by the senseless followers of the self styled God man Ram Rahim made us a laughing stock in front of the world. As it was a rather hectic week, I was eagerly looking forward to the weekend & my eyes lit up when I came to know about Thala's "Vivegam" being released. The trailer showcased it as a Hollywood style action thriller. So does it deliver what it promises???


AK (Ajith Kumar) was the head of the counter terrorism squad, who had 'supposedly' gone rogue. He had taken down a terrorist outfit single handedly & confiscated a hard drive which contained the codes to launch a nuclear weapon. This prompted the intelligence agencies to issue a look-out notice for him & the task was assigned to his former team-mates headed by his best buddy Aryan Sangha (Vivek Oberoi). AK was said to have moved over to the dark side after their botched mission to capture the hacker, Natasha (Akshara Hasan). So why did the best agent in the world become rogue???

The project is helmed by Siva, who is well known for his masala entertainers. Incidentally this is his third movie with Thala on the trot after "Veeram" & "Vedhalam". He has pretty much taken care of the core aspects of the movie such as script, story & screenplay and has done a fine job in the execution of it. It is a top notch action thriller without doubt but it goes over the top after a point that you cant help chuckle & cringe at times. However, one cant deny the fact that the punch dialogues will evoke whistles. With regard to the climax, there was talk of a much hyped fight between Thala & his rival that had many people going ga-ga over it. But it was hilarious to say the least & you will realise the reason when you watch it. 

It is an out & out Ajith movie and he has done utmost justice to his role His charisma & style is used to the hilt and he delivers to his fan's satisfaction. Vivek Oberoi had the aura that his character required but the dubbing done for him wasnt quite upto the mark. Kajal Aggarwal has done her part adequately as well while the rest were ok as well. Anirudh' music elevated the mood of the movie while Vetri's visuals deserves praise.

Verdict: It is a movie for the fans & they will lap it up happily. As for the rest, the action sequences will surely thrill but the lack of logic in many scenes will be a turn off. So is it worth a try?? Well if you are a Ajith fan, then it will surely whet your appetite. In short, Jason Bourne might pale in comparison to AK in terms of brawn & brains!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bareilly Ki Barfi review: " As sweet as barfi!!!"

Last couple of days has been rather eventful with the Supreme Court passing the judgement that triple talaq is illegal, the Solar eclipse over the US & Nadal back to World No.1. Even I was quite busy with work commitments that I didnt quite find the time to pen down my thoughts about 'Bareilly ki Barfi". In normal circumstances, I wouldnt have bothered to write the review since it's been in the theatres for more than half a week. But I would have to admit, I was pretty entertained by it & as it doesnt have huge stars there is a good chance that many of my friends would have skipped or even be unaware about it. Hence I felt I should give you my opinion as to why it is worth a try.

As the title indicates, the story unfolds in the bustling small town of Bareilly where Bitti Sharma (Kriti Sanon), a strong opinionated free spirited girl lived who was quite unlike other girls in the area. So much so, her mother (Seema Bhargava) constantly worried about the prospects of her daughter getting married off in the traditional manner. On the other hand, her father (Pankaj Tripathi), who ran a sweet shop gave his approval to all her crazy antics. None of the prospective grooms gave her the impression that they were ready to embrace her for the person that she was, until she stumbled across a novel called "Bareilly ki Barfi". Incidentally, the girl mentioned in the book had her same traits which made her decide to meet the author Pritam Vidrohi (Rajkkumar Rao). But all her efforts to locate him drew blank & therefore she sought the help of Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurana), the publisher of the book who was said to know about his whereabouts. However, she was oblivious of the fact that Chirag was indeed the author. So why was Pritam being credited as the author???


The creator of this hilarious rom com is Aswiny Iyer Tiwari, who had made an impressive debut with "Nil Battey Sannata" that was critically acclaimed far & wide. She was aided in her task by her husband Nitesh Tiwari (of "Dangal" fame) who along with Shreyas Jain & Rajat Nonia had penned the script. It was sprinkled with humorous dialogues & situational comedy which was both realistic and in sync with the region where the story is based.Personally speaking, I absolutely loved the speech in the climax which kinda reminded me of Aamir in "Dil Chahta Hai". There are hardly much twists & turns making it fairly predictable.All the personnel involved in the technical aspects have done their jobs well.

Frankly, I never thought Kriti Sanon would be able to do justice to the feisty character of Bitti as it seemed like a role which was up Kangana's alley. But she aced it in style along with Ayushmann who portrayed the forlorn lover as well as the grey shades in Chirag convincingly. But the star of the show is undoubtedly Rajkkumar Rao who was brilliant in the two avatars that he appeared. Equal praise needs to be vested upon Pankaj Tripahi, Seema Bhargava & Rohit Choudhary who have done utmost justice to their roles & also to Javed Akhtar's narration which made the viewing experience all the more enjoyable.

Verdict: Undoubtedly one of the finest rom coms to have come out from Bollywood. Many a time, good movies do get overlooked due to the lack of star power. Hopefully this doesnt turn out to be one & therefore in case, you guys havent watched it; do check it out!!!

Rating: 3.25/5

Regards...Ben



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Toilet-Ek Prem Katha review: "Impressive satire that gets constipated towards the end!!!"

As we step foot into the 71st year of Independence, we are at the cusp of becoming the next global economic powerhouse. But we fail to realise our true potential as there are many areas where we are still stuck in the medieval period.  At times, it is due to the Governments in power while at most instances it's due to the lackadaisical attitude of the population . One such problem that has plagued the country is lack of hygienic toilet practices & this issue is presented as a satire in "Toilet-Ek Prem Katha". The trailer was interesting & with Akki in the lead, there are high hopes about the project. So will it quell the dry spell at the box office after all Bollywood hardly had any big hits this year???


Keshav (Akshay Kumar) is the 36 year old son of a hard liner Brahmin, Panditji (Sudhir Pandey) who was the proprietor of a cycle shop. So dogmatic was his father, that Keshav was forced to marry a buffalo to ward off the 'maanglik' effect that was believed to have delayed his marriage. To add to his woes, his father was adamant that he should be married to a female who had polydactyly to ensure that he had a peaceful life. Around this time, he meets Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) a state topper & with time, they enter into a relationship. He comes up with an ingenious idea to fool his father into believing that Jaya had an extra finger which paves the way for their marriage. But this was hardly a problem, until Jaya realizes that Keshav's house doesn't have a toilet & she would have to go with the 'lota party" in the wee hours to empty her bowels. She was livid about it & Keshav had to come up with an idea to resolve the problem lest she walks out on him.


It's not surprising that Shree Narayanan Singh is a relatively unknown name after all he only has a forgetful "Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai" to his credit as a director.  However, with his latest venture he will be heard with more regularity. He has done a fine job with the execution of the satire for large parts though it falters towards the end. Inspired from real life characters such as Anita Narre & Priyanka Bharti (you would have seen her in the Vidya Balan UNICEF Total Sanitation ad); it has been scripted by Siddharth Singh & Garima Wahal. The predicament that Akshay finds himself in & the 'jugaad' that he comes up with evokes laughs. The manner in which the movie tackles the core issue is hilarious & thought provoking, but the hurried climax seemed rather unconvincing & kinda misses the mark as it stretched a tad too long. Despite his praise worthy credentials as a editor in movies like "A Wednesday", "Baby" , "M. S Dhoni" etc.; he has come up short here as it ought to have been trimmed much more efficiently. Anshuman Mahaley has done a commendable job in maintaining the rustic feel to the visuals while the music which was done by a host of artists were satisfactory.


Over the past couple of years, Akshay's choice of movies has been nothing short of brilliant whether it hits the mark or not. His conscious effort to dabble with various genres be it comedy, social issues, action etc., makes him the actor that I most look forward to (apart from Aamir). He was fantastic as Keshav especially in the marriage scenes where he does goofy stuff that made me almost fall off the seat laughing. Equally impressive was Bhumi who portrayed the fiesty spirit & romantic avatar with ease. It's hard to say who hasnt aced their part as each & every artist has done utmost justice to their roles be it Sudhir Pandey, Anupam Kher, Divyendu Sharma etc. 

Verdict: The box collections at the end of the opening weekend stands at an impressive 51 C, which gives ample proof  that if the content is good then the audience will lap it up. Even as our nation talks about going digital, the stats shows us that close to 45% of our population still dont use toilets even when the authorities offer to build it. From time to time, we have had movies with strong messages; but I sincerely hope that this one will atleast make people make a conscious effort to deter from open defecation. In short, dont miss this hilarious satire!!!

Rating: 3/5

Regards...Ben






Saturday, August 12, 2017

Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 review: "Stale screenplay poses queries whether to watch even if one doesnt have velai!!!

Ever since Poratchi Thalaivi passed away, the political environment in Tamil Nadu has been in constant turmoil. One of the most curious news that has emerged from there in the past couple of days was the interest shown by Rajni & Kamal to enter into politics. Whether they would actually dive into it is a topic for later discussion. But in the meantime, we have Rajni's daughter Soundarya helming the sequel of her brother in law's "VIP 2". The trailer gave the impression that it is made for the masses. But it remains to be seen whether she will be able to make it as well as the prequel???


After his exploits in "VIP", Raghuvaran (Dhanush) is presently a chief engineer in Anita Constructions. His brilliance & unflinching attitude to plough through adversity made him the recipient of the Engineer of the Year. This honour caught the attention of the arrogant Vasundhara Parameswaran (Kajol), whose construction company occupied the numero uno spot in the southern region of the country. Her adamant nature to have the best people work for her, made her make an offer to Raghuvaran. However, he turned it down without much of a thought much to the chagrin of Vasundhara. This spurs her to vent anger on his employee's business ventures & it proved to be a challenge which was too tall for them to withstand. 

This could be said to be Soundarya's debut venture in a way, since her previous effort was "Kochadaiiyan" which was a photo realistic motion capture film. The prequel directed by noted cinematographer Velraj had satiated the critics & masses alike.Unfortunately that's not the case here as the story which is scripted by Dhanush was nothing more than a slightly altered version with an undeniable sense of artificiality. The humour does work at times though it feels that it is been forced upon us & the overall feel is tried to be maintained with characters showing distinct changes in terms of behaviour (eg: Samuthirakani becoming more like Saranya & Amala as Samuthirakani). 

The first half plays to the gallery & breezes through inspite of the drawbacks. But the same cant be said about the latter half as it huffs & puffs towards the climax with hardly anything significant happening apart from a meek villain. Another major drawback is Sean Roldan's music & BGM which lacked the punch of Anirudh. Prasanna could have easily made the movie crispier while Sameer Thahir's visuals were fine. Dhanush rocked as the protagonist & carries the movie on his shoulders. He was ably assisted by Samuthirakani, Vivek & Amala Paul while Saravana Subbiah hardly seemed to strike fear as a villain. The USP of the movie was the clash between Kajol & Dhanush, and the former has done a decent job though there were lip sync issues & her character could have been etched better.

Verdict: It should be able to hold fort at the box office over the weekend on the back of high expectations. Though it doesnt quite live upto it, it will still have the masses interested. If you ask me, I would suggest to think twice before watching it after all the curse of the sequel is inflicted on it to a certain degree!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jab Harry met Sejal review: "Wish they never met!!!"

On the occasion of Friendship Day, I would like to tell to all my buddies that I do cherish the support & brotherhood that we have shared over the years. As Aristotle said "friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies". Even as this weekend celebrated companionship, it also saw the release of  Imtiaz Ali''s "Jab Harry met Sejal" with King Khan & Anushka Sharma as the lead pair. With such a deadly combination, the expectations are nigh high, but will it be a milestone in Bollywood's array of romantic movies???


Harinder Singh aka Harry (SRK) is a tourist guide in Europe, who is adept at his work but emotionally disturbed with memories from the past haunting him. His latest assignment was with a Gujarati family who were dropped off at the airport at the end of the tour. But before Harry could leave the airport, Sejal (Anushka Sharma) a member from that team stayed back & sought his help to find her engagement ring that she had lost during the tour. Though reluctant, he was eventually coaxed into helping her when she threatened him of complaining to the agency. Thus begins their search for the ring across the length & breadth of the continent.

It's been a couple of years since we had a movie from Imtiaz Ali, with the last one being "Tamasha". I have been a fan of his brand of film making which invariably focused on his distinct take on romance that is expressed through self discovery in a travelogue setup. As in the case of his previous ventures, he has scripted this one as well & it deals with the same topic. The biggest flaw with the movie is the script itself as it seemed more like a travelogue of exotic locations with scant regard for the characters. To put it bluntly, hardly anything happens in this 144 minute drag fest. The one aspect that deserve brownie points is the cinematography & kudos to K U Mohanan for it. The same applies to the stylist as well, who made sure that the protagonists looked good together. As for the music, there were way too many songs; some of which were forcibly inserted into the proceedings. Unfortunately for Pritam, none of his tracks actually registers while I wont put the blame of Aarti Bajaj's mediocre editing solely on her.

In recent times, SRK hasnt been able to juggle up the numbers at the box office in proportion to his star appeal. So is it because of his acting skills or choice of scripts? From my point of view, even though he isnt the most gifted artist around; he is beyond doubt the most charming one. To be fair to him, I actually feel his performance has been impressive in recent times ("Dear Zindagi", "Raees" & "Fan") but his choice of scripts has been pathetic for large parts. Even Harry will go down as one such misfire where the script slips worse than a banana skin. Anushka does capture our attention with her histrionics, though it seemed artificial & over the top at various instances.

Verdict: As per box office reports, "JHMS" was one of SRK's worst opening in recent times. It might sound harsh to the makers, but it's a welcome sign that more & more people are giving importance to content rather than the artists involved. With a rather non-existent script, this is more like a travelogue that you can watch in the confines of the cool theatre. In terms of the emotional baggage (no semblance to the story at all), it felt like the inferior sibling of "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil". In short, taking cue from their tagline "this movie is definitely not what we seek"!!!

Rating: 1.75/5

Regards...Ben


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Indu Sarkar review: "Hardly worthwhile apart from the controversial hype!!!"

One of the biggest blemishes in Independent India was the Emergency imposed during the period of 1975-77 by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed on the behest of the PM Indira Gandhi. The mastermind behind this decision was said to be Sanjay Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru dynasty & it was a curb on all sort of freedom of the citizens, not to forget the forced sterilization of men. Madhur Bhandarkar's films have always focused on the vices & virtues of various industries be it "Fashion", "Page 3" etc. This time around he has turned his attention to Emergency & it remains to be seen whether he has given an unbiased account of events???


The protagonist of the movie is an orphan Indu (Kirti Kulhari) who suffered from a congenital stammer. It proved to be a hindrance during her days at the orphanage as many potential parents refused to adopt her. In time, she grew up to be an educated lady with a flair for poetry though her ultimate wish was to get married & settle down. However, her stammer was too big a problem for many prospective grooms & their mothers. But destiny finally smiled on her as she got married to a civil servant, Navin Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury) who was the go-to man of a prominent minister in the Government. It was around this time that Emergency was imposed, which made Indu witness to many unsavoury events. How it brings about a change in her attitude forms the crux of the movie.

Madhur Bhandarkar's credentials as a director needs no introduction as it is well documented with some classic films. But it's been quite a while since his movies have made an impact at the box office which is understandable as most of them were abysmal. This track record is unlikely to change for his latest venture as well as his script doesnt offer anything substantial rather than just barely skim through some of the prominent events. Despite the uncanny similarities to prominent political figures, he refrains from using their names & reduces them to typical Bollywood villains, rather than attempt to make it into a thrilling political drama. 

On the positive side, credit ought to be given for the casting; as the choice of artists was impressive & they have delivered as well. Kirti Kulhari continues her fine form from "Pink" & was spot on with her portrayal of the protagonist. Tota Roy. Sheeba Chadha (as Mekhla) & Manav Vij (as Inspector Sodhi) have done justice to their roles. Neil Nitin Mukesh could have been the doppelganger of Sanjay Gandhi but he was handicapped by being reduced to a stereotypical Bollywood villain. 

Verdict: Apart from the clever choice of words for the title, there is hardly anything worthwhile contrary to what the trailer conveyed. There was ample scope for a riveting political drama but what we get is mundane stuff. However, kudos to the sincere effort of the artists though the same cant be said about Madhur. In short, wont hurt to give it a miss!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben

Monday, July 31, 2017

Mubarakan review: "Typical run of the mill though it does evoke laughs!!!"

Hilarious comedies has been far & few in recent times for reasons best known to film makers. Invariably, majority of the so called "comedies" that hits the screens are inundated with sexual innuendos. I would have laughed at some of the jokes though frankly speaking, I am not a huge fan of such comedies. This week saw the release of Anees Bazmee's "Mubarakan" which was in the news as it featured the first reel collaboration between uncle Anil Kapoor & nephew Arjun Kapoor.  So will it be as hilarious as some of his previous ventures???


Karan & Charan (Arjun Kapoor) were twins who were orphaned in their infancy when their parents met with an accident. They were then raised by their aunt & uncle, with Karan in London under the care of Jitto (Ratna Pathak Shah) & Charan with Balvinder (Pavan Malhotra) in Punjab. Both of them grow up to become handsome hunks & Jitto decides to fix Charan's alliance with Bickle (Athiya Shetty), daughter of Sandhu, a rich industrialist. Since Charan was already in a relation with Nafisa (Neha Sharma), he sought the help of his uncle Kartar Singh (Anil Kapoor) to somehow get out of the proposal. But instead of solving the issue, the situation got messier by the minute.

It's been a while since Bazmee had a release with his previous one being the forgetful "Welcome Back" a couple of years back. It's common knowledge that Bollywood does struggle to make movies that belong to the comedy genre without going under the belt. In that respect, this one stands out though its plot is neither unique nor executed in a fresh manner. But there are a number of sequences that will genuinely make us laugh. However, it is awfully long & Rameshwar Bhagat ought to have cut it short by half an hour. None of the other technical aspects deserves mention.

Arjun might be the protagonist, but it's his uncle Anil who walks with the applause courtesy of his comic timing & buffoonery. Equally impressive were Ratna Pathak & Pavan Malhotra, who shoulders many of the scenes expertly. Arjun has done a decent job though there is much scope for improvement. As for the female leads, Ileana is spirited, Athiya didnt have much to do while Neha was given a raw deal. 

Verdict: It's been a while since we had a comedy movie which should work in its favour as it ticks that box. For a weekend spent out with family, this movie will be an ideal choice to lift the spirits. In short, it wont become a money spinner for Bazmee but you my give it a try !!!

Rating; 2.25/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Nibunan review: "Not a memorable 150 for the Action King!!!"

Just when I thought that I would spent a good part of the weekend watching the Test match, the Men in Blue decimated the Lankans by a whooping 304 runs with a day to spare. The mainstay behind this emphatic victory was the 150 plus scores smashed by Dhawan & Pujara. Incidentally, there was another individual who reached the milestone of 150, though it was from the film fraternity & it happened to be the Action King Arjun Sarja. So will it be a happy outing for the veteran like our boys???


Ranjith Kalidoss (Arjun Sarja) is the dynamic DSP of the Crime Investigative Department who along with his team, Joseph (Prasanna) & Vandana (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar) had solved many challenging cases in the past. Their latest case seemed like the work of a serial killer & it all began with Ranjith receiving a package which contained a doll. Soon after a murder happens & the doll happened to contain the clues for it. One murder led to the other & it seemed to be part of an elaborate plan in which Ranjith was also linked. But before Ranjith & his team, could crack the case; he was diagnosed with a debilitating condition. Will it be the end of the distinguished career of the ace cop???

Arun Vaidyanathan is a familiar name for Malayalis as his previous venture was "Peruchazhi" with Lalettan. But he is well known for his debut venture "Achchamundu Achchamundu" which dealt with pedophiles. His latest effort "Nibunan" is a crime thriller that looked promising at the onset but failed to live upto expectations. The manner in which the murder was carried out was interesting, however it didn't seem unique or managed to impart an edge of the seat experience for the audience. Another flaw is the casting of the antagonist, who was incapable of sending a chill down the spine & the choice of Suhasini, who though had a brief role didn't seem the apt choice. Arvind Krishna & Sathish Suriya has done a fine job with the visuals & editing respectively. As far as music is concerned, Navin didnt quite hit the bull's eye. 

There are a handful of artists in the movie but it is primarily an Arjun feast as he is pretty much there in almost all the scenes. He has done utmost justice to his role & seemed at ease with both action & emotions. As for the rest, Prasanna & Sruthi Hariharan was fine while Varalaxmi was average & Vaibhav was wasted.

Verdict: The trailer of the movie was released with much fanfare a couple of months back & boy, just like millions of fans even I loved it. It did have the substance to be a brilliant movie but falls well short of it. In short, you can give it a try though not with much expectations!!!

Rating: 2.5/5

Regards...Ben


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vikram Vedha review: "Smashing thriller where lines blur between good & evil!!!"

It's been a while since I have watched a Tamil movie as none of the recent ones had enticed me to check it out. But all that changed this weekend when "Vikram Vedha" hit the screens. The main reason being the stellar star cast which pitted Madhavan against Vijay Sethupathy & the classy manner in which the trailer was made. Interestingly, I haven't watched any of Sethupathy's movies though many of my friends told me that he does make wise choices. So was it wise of me to watch this one???


Vikram (Madhavan) is an encounter specialist who along with his colleagues are entrusted with the task of nailing the dreaded gangster, Vedha (Vijay Sethupathy). The film unfolds with Vikram & his team on a mission where they eliminate many of Vedha's aides including his innocent brother, Puli (Kathir). Even as Vikram plans his next move, Vedha surrenders to the police & hence begins an intriguing match of wits between the two. Vikram strongly believed that there is a clear demarcation between right & wrong and that there was no justification for Vedha's crimes. But the latter tries to prove it otherwise & coaxes Vikram to listen to his story before he makes an assumption.  Will Vikram beliefs still remain unshaken???

It is rather uncommon to see director duos nowadays & even more so, when the pair is a couple. The brains behind this intelligent thriller is Pushkar & Gayathri who are calling the shots after seven years. Since I havent watched their previous ventures, "Oram Po" & "Va", I dont have any preconceived notion about their craft. The uniqueness of the movie is the manner in which they have taken the essence of the Vikramadityan-Vedhalam tale & incorporated it here. The interactions between the protagonists is the main highlight, to the extent that each dialogue has relevance at some point in the movie (if I say anything more, it would turn out to be a spoiler). On the technical side, the tone & texture of the visuals adds to the overall effect for which P S Vinod deserves praise. Sam C's tracks & BGM gels with the mood while Richard Kevin's editing was impressive.

But there is little that a director can do unless he has a credible star cast that does justice to his efforts. Luckily, Pushkar & Gayathri have opted for the services of Madhavan & Sethupathy, both of whom were electric on screen. As the track moves forward, we cant help root for Vedha which happens solely due to the swagger & bindaas attitude that Sethupathy imparts to the character. Madhavan was equally good as the no nonsense cop & they were ably supported by Kathir, Varalaxmi, Shraddha & Hareesh Peradi.

Verdict: There is no doubt that this is one of the finest crime thriller that I have watched in the last couple of years. Apart from the acting caliber of the lead pairs, the film has a credible script which is executed in a unique manner. As a person, who never felt the urge to watch a Sethupathy movie until now; this movie was definitely an eye opener. In short, dont miss it!!!

Rating: 3.5/5

Regards...Ben


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dunkirk review: "Non linearity at its best as Nolan beckons Oscar!!!

Over the years, Hollywood has had some extraordinary directors such as Hitchcock, Spielberg, Lucas, Ridley Scott, Tarantino etc etc. But one person who has absolutely fascinated me with each of his films is Christopher Nolan. I became his fan with "Memento" & since then he has never ceased to surprise the audience with his craft. On the contrary, he kept setting the bar higher & higher. So when the trailer of his war thriller "Dunkirk" hit the screens just before Xmas, it created an unprecedented hype & anticipation. Is it indeed one of the greatest war movie ever made???


As the name suggests, it is about the evacuation of the British forces who were stranded on the beach of Dunkirk in France during WWII. The enemy (interestingly not even once, Germany is mentioned) was unleashing hell on the 400,000 soldiers who were virtually sitting ducks on the beach. The movie moves in a non linear pattern with three separate tracks, each of which focuses on land, water & air respectively. The first track happens over a week & is about a young British soldier Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) who had managed to reach the beach alive & was trying to find a vessel which would take him home. With the Royal Navy ships coming under heavy fire, they opt to command private boats for evacuation. Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) joins the mission but rather than wait for the Navy, he sets sail on his own with his son Peter (Tom Glynn) & his friend, George (Barry Keoghan). This track unfolds over a day while the third segment happens over an hour in the sky. The Royal Airforce spitfire fighters which included Farrier (Tom Hardy) tried to keep the airspace clear to provide a safe passage for the rescue boats.

Apart from donning the director's hat, Nolan has penned this brilliant script as well. The beauty of the movie is that even though there are very few dialogues, the impact that is able to create on the audience is unbelievable. He has weaved all the three segments so well that even though there are difference in time duration, we dont feel it at all. All the technical aspects are brilliant & so realistic especially the aerial sequences that we actually feel we are on the fighter planes, kudos to Hoyte's breath taking visuals. Another major factor that elevated the viewing experience to a whole different level was Hans Zimmer's music which instills chills & goose bumps in equal measure.

As far as performances are concerned, each & every actor has done utmost justice to their roles. Tom Hardy with his mask on reminded me of Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises" but that didnt handicap him as his expressions conveys the emotions effectively. The same applies to Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton, Mark Rylance & Tom Glynn as well.

Verdict: It is undoubtedly one of the greatest war movies ever made which is more than reason enough not to miss this gem. Even without the gory scenes that is part & parcel of movies in this genre, it still manages to keep us on the edge of our seats. In short, just rush to your nearest theatre if you havent done it till now!!!

Rating: 4.5/5

Regards...Ben