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