Friday, July 17, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 17th July, 2015
Time : 159 minutes
Director: Kabir Khan; Writer: Vijayendra Prasad; Music : Pritam (background by Julius Packham)
Starring : Salman Khan, Harshaali Malhotra, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sharat Saxena, Om Puri, Rajesh Sharma

If you’re prepared to go past an implausible premise, a lack of logic overall and see a tear-jerker kind of drama, laced with good intentions and a good heart (like our hero), but the same old (especially when it comes to the India – Pakistan theme) and strangely a Salman who behaves most unlike his normal screen avatar (throws four punches in the entire film, goes shirtless only once) and has the expression shown below for 80% of the film…. Then you are a better man than I am, Gunga Din…

Harshaali, a mute girl of 6, is lost in India, left behind by her sleeping mother. She somehow lands up with Salman Khan, just as an uncle in Pakistan consoles her sobbing mother with ‘Koi to nek banda milega use Hindustan mein’ (yes, it’s that cheesy a film). He looks after her, takes her to his future father in law’s place (Sharat Saxena) but then when they discover she is from Pakistan and on being given an ultimatum by his To-be-FIL, he vows to deliver her by himself to her home…

Kareena provides support in India and Nawazuddin does the same in Pakistan – both delivering strong performances – Kareena looking spunky, gorgeous (she’s always had this all knowing, superior kind of look, which suits her here) and Nawaz providing a touch of reality to Salman’s bravado – the response to any challenge is ‘Main Bajrang bali ka bhakt hoon’, which means he wont lie, sneak in, do anything bad or anything that is common-sensical and will bow in front of every simian creature he sees…

The film, more so in the second half, stretches, elongates and uses every trick in the book to try to wring a tear or two from your eyes. Especially with the tried and tested theme of how the people in India and Pakistan are but one, torn asunder by the armed forces and distrust.

Gorgeous visuals are Kabir Khan’s trademark and this movie doesn’t disappoint on that front. The songs are quite ordinary – maybe one which resonates (a bit because it plays in the background and doesn’t halt the story) and no, it isn’t the one with Adnan Sami (found that a bit pretentious). The best part of the film is the early bit in Pakistan when Nawaz is helping them on the run – the humour is subtle but comes through, especially the ‘aur thoda nazakat se’.

Wish the second half had more of that and an editor who could’ve comfortably reduced about half an hour of its current 159 minutes. It’s not a bad film, way better than say Bodyguard or Ready – but its just a little flat, maybe because the makers try so hard, with moist eyes and a jam-packed background score, to make us feel !

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 10th July, 2015
Time : 159 minutes
Director: SS Rajamouli; Writer: V Vijayendra Prasad; Music : M M Keeravani
Starring : Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Tamannaah, Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj, Nassar

Karan Arjun (with a dash of Johar) meets Telegu film sensibilities meets Game of Thrones in a romantic, period drama, action thriller. Good fun, if you’re a fan of the genre and don’t mind being entertained emotionally (and loudly) vs logically…

Simplistic storyline goes somewhat like this. Young baby, carried by noble lady (Ramya Krishnan), is chased by bloodthirsty soldiers at the bottom of a giant, humungous waterfall. The baby, the only survivor, is adopted by a tribal chieftain but always yearns to go on top of the waterfall. After repeated failures, succeeds one day, when he’s grown to be a young, strong man (Prabhas), inspired by a feminine wooden mask, which falls from above. He finds another world at the top – revolutionaries (including his female, Tamannaah), struggling to overthrow a tyrant king (Rana Daggubati), who is protected by a loyal chieftain (Sathyaraj), sworn to protect the throne, despite his disapproval of the way he treats and has imprisoned an old lady, Anushka Shetty, who is awaiting the arrival of her supposedly dead son to avenge her…

Now, at every step of the way, add in hyper-emotion and hyperbole, and you get some sense of what awaits you…

Great special effects (think almost, about 60-70% The Mummy level) and our instantly likeable hero, Prabhas (switches seamlessly from romance to action at the flick of a switch), keep us entertained even when the story drags a bit. The dubbing feels a bit odd at first but you get used to it pretty soon. Tamannaah (could this spelling, be, anymore complicated?), luckily has dresses shorter than her name, and does justice to her fighter revolutionary role too. Sathyaraj & Ramya are very impressive, as is Rana in role in which he matches the hero step by step for the most part.

Period dramas, if done right, not only inspire awe and grandeur but also help transport you to other realms. A measure that they did succeed comes from the fact that you almost feel cheated when you realize that this is the first part of a two part series...and the story is left tantalizingly poised at an intriguing juncture…


Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 10th July, 2015
Time : 159 minutes
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin; Writer: Brian Lynch; Music : Heitor Pereira
Starring : (Voices of) : Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney Steve Coogan

Non-stop silliness that makes you laugh. Very loudly.

It’s hard to describe what exactly made you laugh. But its great fun, as the adorable Minions, search for an evil master leads them from Arctic regions to America (and a Villain convention) and on to England. Encountering, along the way polar bears, an adorable bank robbing family and the deliciously devilish Scarlett (Sandra Bullock), who, along with her husband Herb (Jon Hamm), has grand plans, involving the Queen, to crown her villainy…

The movie belongs to the Minions though, notably three, Kevin, Stuart and Bob – who leave the rest of the pack in an ice cave – while they travel in their hunt for the heinous. Kevin is the leader of the pack, Stuart, a guitarist who involuntarily signed up for the mission and Bob, the enthusiastic baby of the group…

The music, the jokes, the slapstick humour, the comic timing – make it a rollercoaster ride, but one which, thanks to the gobblydegook language of our Minions, makes it very hard to recount in a review. Was it the escape from a polar bear, the banana hallucination, Stuart’s guitar obsession, the old Royal guard protecting the Crown Jewels, the hypnotic operatic dance, Scarlett’s bedtime story, the sight of the Queen having a pint, the unintentional ways the Minion’s lose their leader or the way the pack tries to find their intrepid three explorers…somewhere in all of that lies the answer to what makes you laugh so hard…on several occasions…

It does stretch a bit in the second half but still fun nonetheless. Go indulge the child in you…

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Guddu Rangeela

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 3rd July, 2015
Time : 122 minutes
Director, Writer: Subhash Kapoor; Music : Hitesh Sonik
Starring : Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Ronit Roy, Rajiv Gupta

It got too serious, especially in the second half, that too with a flawed plot

The first fifteen minutes were fun – an orchestra band run by Arshad Warsi (Rangeela) and Amit Sadh (Guddu), singing songs like Mata Ka Email for jagrans, scoping houses for robbers, Amit leching furiously while checking out the residence, sadhu’s enjoying a game of football, having posters of Messi, Ronaldo alongside their gods, robbery with funny masks, multiple robbers landing up on the same premises…it was all fun and games, making subtle points about the kind of society we’ve become…

Then arrives our villain (Ronit Roy), the man Arshad is seeking revenge against, a toughie who does the dirty work for our hypocritical, moralistic khaap panchayats, and the mood changes. Enter a new cop (Amit Sial), a new compulsion, a shady character, Dibyendu, a kind of informer, who has a simple plot for kidnapping a girl, Aditi, and solving all the problems in one go… but nothing is what it seems…

Till the end of the first half, things are nicely set-up. But then it rapidly begins to slide downhill. Gets too serious, too complicated and too flawed.

Arshad is very good in his comic moments, emotes well and is overall fine except when you suddenly make him a superhero type, beating / shooting a bunch of villains away – that just doesn’t seem right. Amit Sadh is good – he suits this side-kick kind of role, with the lechery, small town act, as is Aditi who moves from being hapless girl to being partner in crime with practiced ease. The whole romance between Aditi and Amit is rushed, quite unnecessary, doesn’t ring quite right. Dibyendu, for me, didn’t quite get his character right, but special mention of Rajiv Gupta, as the simple, fun-loving number two cop, who did and continued to be the entertainment quotient whenever on screen.

Unlike Subhash Kapoor’s previous film, Jolly LLB, which got the balance between humour, plot and seriousness right, this one flounders between the three, especially in the second half. There was a better story to be had with characters as richly drawn as Guddu Rangeela – one with a lot more fun and a lot more subtle points re the khaap panchayats, not the sledgehammer used in this one. I normally give an extra rating point, if the message is right / heart is in the right place, guess here am too disappointed to do so.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Terminator Genisys

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 3rd July, 2015
Time : 127 minutes
Director: Alan Taylor; Writer s: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier based on the characters create by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd; Music : Lorna Balfe with Hans Zimmer as Executive Music Producer
Starring : Arnold Schwarznegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, JK Simmons, Byung-hun Lee

PS : Neither the film nor the review will make complete sense if you’ve been hiding under a rock, watching civilization pass you by and have never seen a Terminator film so far

“Old…but not obsolete” Arnold Schwarznegger is back…in the role that made him a superstar.

Two other actors I really like – the expressive Emilia Clarke, Khaleesi / Mother of the Dragons in Game of Thrones, and the jaunty Jai Courtney (from Jack Reacher) – join forces, as the younger Sarah Connors / Kyle Reese, to travel back and forth in time and prevent Skynet from ever taking over.

Jason Clarke (as John Connor), shortly after leading his troops to victory over the machines, somewhere in the future, realizes that they had sent a robot back to 1984 to kill his mother. To protect her, in a phase where he felt she would be at her most vulnerable, he sends his most trusted lieutenant, Jai (Kyle Reese) to do the job. But Jai, when he arrives, and meets Emilia (Sarah), finds things are anything but as predicted… with various killer robot models criss-crossing back and forth in time – Arnold Schwarznegger, Byung-Hun Lee, to name just two – you’re never sure who is really what they claim to be…

Arnold is a treat to watch – they tackle his ageing in a most delightful way – and his interactions with Emilia and Jai are well-written, especially a fake, polite smile he puts on, in an effort to blend in. Emilia and Jai are both excellent in their roles, bringing one half vulnerability, one half spunk to their characters. Jason Clarke is very good too, as is JK Simmons (the cop, finally seeking some answers), and Byung-hun (quietly menacing).

There is a lot of mumbo-jumbo about Quantum Mechanics, memory from two alternate lives, Magnetism. The logic behind a lot of events is highly questionable- and I’m being polite here – but we’re given a good, fun joyride – great repartee, engaging characters, scintillating special effects, a great (familiar) soundtrack and awesome action sequences – all of which ensures we walk out in a great frame of mind...