Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Baahubali - The Conclusion: A Perfect Masala Entertainer With Ingredients Right From Manmohan Desai to Karan Johar

Finally comes a movie that seizes "The Greatest Story Ever Told" tagline from Sholay and mind you it is not a mainstream bollywood movie helmed by Aamir, Shahrukh or Salman. It is none other than S.S. Rajamouli's Magnum opus Baahubali.

  • Prabhas as Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali alias Shivudu (Shiva in Hindi and Shivu in Tamil)
  • Rana Daggubati as Bhallala Deva
  • Anushka Shetty as Devasena
  • Ramya Krishnan as Rajmata Sivagami
  • Sathyaraj as Kattappa
  • Tamannaah as Avanthika
  • Nassar as Bijjaladeva
  • Subbaraju as Kumara Varma

Baahubali - The conclusion released world-wide in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. It became first Indian film to worldwide gross in excess of 500 crore (5 billion) in all languages in just three days.

Similar to the prequel Baahubali - The Beginning, this continuation of the grand fiction tale has breathtaking action sequences, top rate background score, superb performances and world class animation and special effects.

But more than the special effects what makes Baahubali special is the drama at its core. This is wonderful piece of storytelling with very powerful screenplay. There are hardly any moments where viewers get any time to blink their eyelids. Songs are limited but very nicely vowen into the narrative.

Prabhas stands tall and delivers a solid performance, he is equally matched by Rana Daggubati who plays the antagonist. Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan and Sathyaraj have performed their part with grace and poise. By now the characters played by these actors have become very popular, legendry and subject of common household discussions. This itself is a testimony of the hardwork, focus and detailing done by the director on each and every aspect of the movie.

There are hardly any shortcomings, the only time when the viewers start to get a bit impatient is that portion of the first half when Baahubali meets Devsena. Here too the intent of the director is to insert some light moments of fun and romance. Once these sequences are done the story moves very fast.

There are multiple reasons why you should watch Baahubali - The Conclusion. You may watch it because you loved the first part Baahubali - The Beginning, or you may watch it for S.S. Rajamouli's brilliance as a story teller, or you may watch it for its larger than life canvas and the superb special effects. The list goes on and on because this magnum opus has a lot to offer. It has got everything that we have watched and cheerished so far, right from Manmohan Desai's Coolie to Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum. My recommendation is to watch it for the drama, watch it for the dialogues, watch it for the seeti maar sequences and above all watch it for all the Indian-ness in the narrative. It doesn't get bigger than this. A perfect masala entertainer, go have a blast!


Friday, January 27, 2017

Raees - ShahRukh Sizzles In Dholakia's Partial Adaptation Of Agneepath & Vaastav

Movie Review: Raees

Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar and Gauri Khan, Raees is directed by Rahul Dholakia who is best known for his National Film Award winning film, Parzania (Heaven & Hell On Earth) - 2005. It is said that Raees is based on the life of Abdul Latif( as per Wikipedia he was an associate of Dawood Ibrahim and the main culprit in supplying RDX used in 1993 Mumbai blasts), however, the film has a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction.

In addition to the above, Raees according to me borrows from two Bollywood superhits: Agneepath and Vaastav. 

The pre-interval portion of Raees becoming a bootlegger is clearly inspired by Agneepath where a small boy who is given shelter by local goons grows to become their competitor. He eventually kills all of them to become the undisputed don.

Post interval portion has traces of Vaastav where the golden hearted Robinhood cum don runs into trouble with politicians but it is too late before he realizes that he has made some grave mistakes.

What works well?

As expected this is a one man show. ShahRukh sizzles from the word go. He charms his fans in every single frame. He looks great in his wide glasses and is mind-blowing in the action sequences. You also get to see the actor behind the star in some of the post interval emotional scenes. Mahira Khan has limited scope but she does well as ShahRukh's love interest. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub is first rate as ShahRukh's childhood friend. This is another good performance from the actor after Tanu Weds Manu Returns. Raees would not have been the film it is without Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Nawazuddin matches SRK in every frame and returns fire with fire. Atul Kulkarni and Narendra Jha have played their part well, they add the required spice to the proceedings.

Direction is good, music is decent and dialogues are excellent. Length of the movie is about 2 Hours 22 minutes and the pace is decent.

What could have been better?

Like most movies Raees fails to keep up the pace and excitement in the second half. There is no novelty in the local don cum Robinhood concept, it is a thing of the past which has been shown umpteen times. After a while it seems like a drag. If you remove SRK the star and Nawazuddin the actor then Raees is reduced to just another movie of Bollywood with no major USP.

To summarize, you may want to stay away if you are tired of watching the blazing guns and violence but it is a must watch if you are a die-hard fan of SRK or Nawazuddin. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kaabil Is Aakhri Raasta Meets Aankhen Meets Qatl

Movie Review Kaabil
Hrithik Roshan as Rohan Bhatnagar
Yami Gautam as Supriya Bhatnagar
Ronit Roy as Madhavrao Shelar
Rohit Roy as Amit Shelar
Narendra Jha as Police officer Chaubey
Suresh Menon as Zafar
Md. Sahidur Rahaman as Wasim
Akhilendra Mishra as Wasim's Father
Girish Kulkarni as Police officer Nalawade
Urvashi Rautela (special appearance in song)

Kaabil borrows its narrative from three movies:

Qatl: Sanjeev Kumar plays a blind husband in the 1986 mystery thriller who kills his cheating wife and her lover.

Aankhen: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal and Arjun Rampal get away with a bank robbery because no one believes that three blind men can rob a bank. 

Aakhri Raasta1986 bollywood action drama film written and directed by K. Bhagyaraj.

Directed by Sanjay Gupta, Kaabil is produced by Rakesh Roshan. Sanjay is known for making bollywood movies that are based or inspired from one or more hollywood movies. Kaabil is no different. Other than the three bollywood movies mentioned above Kaabil is also said to be inspired by Blind Furry and Broken as well.

What works well?

Hrithik delivers a very controlled performance. This role is different from his previous super hero movies and he plays it with lot of poise. Yami looks beautiful and the pair of Yami gautam and Hrithik Roshan looks great on screen. Songs are decent and the story moves at a fast pace. Supporting cast of Girish Kulkarni and Narendra Jha have done a good job. Rohit Roy plays the bad guy with ease but it is the act of Ronit Roy that adds real spice to the proceedings. Ronit is first rate as the politician who can go to any level for saving his brother. Another great performance from Ronit after Udaan, Ugly and Two States. Dialogues are good and length of the movie is perfect.

What does not work well?

It is an action revenge drama which has no scope for comedy. Hence there are no light moments and the narrative remains tense throughout. Post interval revenge sequences are good but in some sequences there are minor loopholes. Also at some places the screenplay could have been better.

Recommendation: Definitely a must watch for Hrithik Roshan fans and lovers of action, revenge and keep your brain at home bollywood dramas.

Note: Not for kids

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dangal Makes You Sing The National Anthem And Chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai - May Gross Rs 500 Crores At Boxoffice

Movie Review: Dangal

Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat
Sakshi Tanwar as Daya Shobha Kaur, wife of Mahavir Singh Phogat
Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat, daughter of Mahavir Singh Phogat
Zaira Wasim as young Geeta
Sanya Malhotra as Babita Kumari, daughter of Mahavir Singh Phogat
Suhani Bhatnagar as young Babita
Girish Kulkarni
Aparshakti Khurrana
Vivan Bhatena

How Dangal came into being?

Dangal is directed by Nitesh Tiwari who has films like Chillar Party and Bhoothnath Returns to his credit.
In the year 2012 a small article on Mahavir Phogat and his daughters caught the attention of Disney's creative executive Divya Rao and in about 4 years we have a 3 hour feature film ready to hit the silver screen. Siddharth Roy Kapoor (CEO of UTV Motion Pictures and Disney India) roped in director Nitesh Tiwari and then they approached Aamir Khan with the story (after interviewing Mahavir Phogat and family). Apparently Aamir wanted to do the film when he turned 60 but later he changed his mind as he thought the concept was really great.

What Works Well?

Story, Screenplay and Direction: Nitesh has written a wonderful story which has drama at its core. While it is focused on discrimination against the girl child in India, director Nitesh has presented it in a very entertaining manner. Screenplay is first rate and dialogues are crisp with witty one liners used multiple times in the first half. Direction is excellent and balance between emotion and humor is well maintained; it will make you laugh as well as cry at the same time.

Aamir has put everything in this role, he is convincing in all shades of Mahavir. He looks young, middle-aged and old with equal grace and poise. The movie however belongs to the girls. Zaira Wasim as young Geeta is amazing and so is Suhani Bhatnagar as young Babita. The amount of hardwork and training that must have happened in the background is clearly visible on the screen. First half is full of humor and the credit goes to the wonderful performances by the young girls. Watch out for the scene when Zaira Wasim first wrestles against a guy, the cinema hall goes berserk with seetees and taalis.

Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat is the lifeline of Dangal with equally fantastic perfromance by Sanya Malhotra as Babita Kumari. Fatima has earlier acted in Chachi 420, Bade Dilwala and few other movies as a child artist; in Dangal she carries the film on her shoulders post interval. Girish Kulkarni, who won the national award for his performance in marathi film Deool plays the role of Geeta's coach. He is impressive right from the word go. Full credit to the casting team for getting the right set of actors for each role. The title song by Daler Mehandi is used very smartly at key junctures of the story and keeps the tempo high.

What Does Not Work Well?

One cannot find faults with such a film which is made so well and serves its purpose like a dream. Editing is sharp, length is apt and music is very good. The only thing one may be critical about is that the second half is very much similar to Chak De India or Sultan but that is bound to happen in any film based on sports. On the contrary Nitesh should get full credit for making a movie which is based on a predictable story but still keeps you on the edge of your seat.

And before we end, there are some lessons too...

  • If you are Sehwag, play like Sehwag, don't play like Dravid because if you do, you will neither be Sehwag nor be Dravid.
  • Your mentor/ father may not come to guide or save you every single time, there will be times when you will have to learn and fight your own battles.
  • There is no replacement of discipline, perseverance. At the end hard-work always pays.
  • It only takes a little bit of indiscipline and casual approach to lose all the hard-work of many years.
  • You need to follow the right advice and tackle every opponent on its merit. What works for one may not work for others.

Recommendation: This one easily deserves 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended if you have a taste for good cinema and a liking for non-romantic films. Ah and before I forget, Dangal makes you sing The National Anthem and chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai, this settles down a lot of controversies regarding Aamir. A sure shot superhit, it may well gross Rs 500 crores at the boxoffice.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Kahaani 2 Durga Rani Singh And Demonetisation Of Rs 500,1000 Currency Notes Have A Lot In Common

Movie Review Kahaani 2 Durga Rani Singh

Before we jump into finding out what is common between Kahaani 2 Durga Rani Singh and Demonetisation Of Rs 500, Rs1000 Currency Notes, let us go back to the 1970s and 1980s and look at the following two movie posters:

Amitabh Bachchan IN & AS Coolie

Dharmendra Plays Pocket Maar

Poster Source: www.BollywoodMoviePosters.com

What do these posters suggest? They tell us that there was a time when the movie stars used to carry a brand which was bigger than the movie itself. Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra are two living legends who carried this brand in the era of 1970s and 1980s. Mind you, it was not just restricted to the posters, even the movie titles used to first flash the name of the superstar and then flash the name of the movie. 

Yes, some stars have a brand value that puts them ahead of the name of the movie itself. When you watch Kahaani 2 Durga Rani Singh don't fail to note that Vidya Balan's name comes ahead of the name of the movie itself. That tells you that Vidya Balan is a brand with immense value.

Now coming back to the review:

What Works Well?

One of my friend sent a WhatsApp text while watching the movie: 'Interval of Kahaani 2 - What a Movie!'

After the movie was over, he sent another text which was more of a caution to ignore all the reviews because some reviews leak the suspense/ thrill. But no worries, you can continue reading this post because there are no spoilers ahead.

Yes, Kahaani 2 has a impeccable first half and the credit goes to the director Sujoy Ghosh. Sujoy is a brilliant story teller. He is mostly known for his great work in Kahaani (part 1) but very few people know that he has also done direction of Jhankaar Beats (2003), Aladin (2009), very popular short film Ahalya (2015) and few other movies.

Now talking about performances, in the beginning of this article we already proved that Vidya is a brand and she lives up to the expectations from the first frame to the last frame. With this act she just raised the bar higher for herself. Arjun Rampal does well as Inder but the surprise package is Jugal Hansraj in a very important role. Supporting cast is good and convincing.

There is no scope for songs. In a dark crime thriller background score plays a very important part and Kahaani 2 has a background score that will keep you engaged and guessing.

What Doesn't Work Well?

There is no doubt that the first half is extraordinary. However, when it comes to the second half there are few minor loopholes which will catch the eyes of the critic. Some may call the second half a screenplay of convenience where the director has taken too much liberty or in other words taken the audience for granted. This is exactly what is common between Kahaani 2 and demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. Critics are of the opinion that demonetisation is the right thing to do but the government is taking the aam junta for granted.

But there is another thing in common, which is a good news, that both - (a) the movie going audience and (b) the aam junta - never listens to the critics. People are happy to support demonetisation even if they have to stand in long queues in front of the banks/ ATMs, similarly, the strong word of mouth, great performances, impeccable first half and brand value of Vidya Balan will be definitely supported by long queues at the Box office of Kahaani 2. Don't miss this if you have a penchant for bollywood thrillers.

Note: Due to sensitive subject parental guidance is recommended. Look at the censor certification before taking your kids to the theatre.