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


Jolly LLB 2 review: "Jolly good time for the producers!!!"

Bollywood got off to a good start this year as "Raees" racked in the moolah to continue the money spinning spree started by "Dangal". In the words of Annu Kapoor, this month we have "the most most saleable, commercially viable superstar" Akshay Kumar coming out with his first release of the year "Jolly LLB 2". It is the sequel of the 2013 sleeper hit, "Jolly LLB" & Fox Studios would be hoping that this would perform better than its predecessor. So will it be able to satiate the audience like the prequel???


Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly (Akki) is a struggling lawyer who does manage to make ends meet with his street smart nature taking up petty cases & other endeavours. However, his desire to make it big in his profession didnt find the support of his boss, a reputed lawyer Rizvi (Ram Gopal Bajaj) for whom Jolly's father had also worked as a munshi. His desire to secure a chamber for himself makes him lie to Hina Siddiqui (Sayani Gupta), a pregnant lady who have been trying to convince Jolly's boss to take up her case. He convinces her that his boss had entrusted him with the responsibility & collects the fees for it. But she soon realises that she had been fooled & commits suicide, which wakens the conscience in Jolly. Can he bring justice to her husband who was murdered in a fake encounter masterminded by Inspector Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra)???

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It's been a couple of years since Subhash Kapoor made his presence felt who has impressive movies like "Phas Gaya Re Obama" & "Jolly LLB" to his credit. As in the case of most of his other movies, he has donned multiple caps here as well with the script & screenplay also of his creation. The dialogues were humorous & ironic which was interspersed with unpleasant hard hitting facts. Just as in the prequel, the court scenes were interesting & hilarious but there were portions which lagged due to inconsistencies in the script & unnecessary placement of songs . On the brighter side, the subtle detailing given to Jolly's wife (though she doesnt have much to do), the Kashmir politics, fake encounters etc deserves praise. Kamal Jeet's visuals were fine along with the art direction. But the music was mediocre while Chandrashekhar's editing could have been sharper.

It must have been Akki's movie, but the one that actually steals the show is Saurabh Shukla who was brilliant as the Judge. Akshay was fantastic & essays the protagonist convincingly making sure that the character is grounded without a starry air to it. Annu Kapoor is also in fine form while Kumud Mishra didnt have much scope to perform. The same applies to the female leads as well such as Huma Qureshi & Sayani Gupta.

Verdict: It was completed in just over a month which is quite unheard of as far as Bollywood movies of superstars are concerned. Since it was made on a budget of just 30 C, it should make bumper returns & the initial box office reports also seems to be pointing towards that. It might not be exactly top notch but inspite of that it has adequate substance to entertain the audience. In short, check it out!!!

Rating; 2.75/5

Regards...Ben

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Bogan review: "Arvind Swamy rocks even as the film falters in the latter half!!!"

Tamil Nadu has been in the news ever since Puratchi Thalaivi passed away be it the public rallying against the Jallikattu ban or unrest among sections of the society over the decision to elevate Sasikala to the post of CM. So this invariably meant there hasnt been any major releases this year apart from "Bhairava". However, last weekend saw the release of "Bogan" which saw the combo of Jayam Ravi-Arvind Swamy joining hands after the success of "Thani Oruvan" more than a year back. So can the duo recreate the magic yet again???


Aditya Maravarman (Arvind Swamy) belonged to the royal lineage who still led a posh lifestyle except that this was not acquired as heirloom but rather through magic. He used to work as an assistant to noted archaeologist, Chezhiyan (Nassar) & during one of the excavations he happened to lay hands on the scriptures of the saint Bogar who had acquired the mystical powers of body swapping. With such power at his disposal, he loots banks & jewelries at will by swapping into bodies of unsuspecting individuals. During one such endeavor, the victim happened to be ACP Vikram's (Jayam Ravi) father who launches an exhaustive search for the mastermind before zeroing in on Aditya. But it soon turned out that finding the culprit was easier than bringing him before the law. 

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After the forgetful "Romeo Juliet", Lakshman is back with his latest venture "Bogan" hoping to make amends for the former. Even though, the script is credited to himself & K Chandra; it was nothing more than a concoction of "Hot Chick"/"Face Off"/ a segment of "Ezham Arivu". Lakshman builds up the story interestingly with a cracking first half (minus the cringy romantic scenes) thanks largely to the suave Arvind Swamy. In the latter half, the film falters as it meanders to a predictable climax even as both the lead stars makes it engaging for the audience with their performance. Soundarajan has done a fine job with the cinematography while D Imman's music was mediocre though I did like the BGM. Antony could have trimmed the latter half much more judiciously & made it breezy.

As in "Thani Oruvan", Arvind Swamy steals the show yet again with a cracking performance as the baddie. His eccentricities & sly nature will be lapped up by the audience. Even Jayam Ravi has done a fine job, though he seemed a bit up-tight when he essayed the character of Vikram & ends up second best. Hansika Motwani was nothing more than an absolute torture while the rest of the characters could have been better etched such as Nasar & Jayam Ravi's colleagues. 

Verdict: With no credible competition in the vicinity, the film should fare reasonably well in all centres. Even though the film is let down by a rather trite latter half, it still has ample moments which makes it interesting for the audience courtesy of the star duo. In short, it will come across as an inferior version of "Thani Oruvan" but you can still give it a try!!!

Rating: 2.25/5

Regards...Ben