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