The Love Battle- Raabta Film Review

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Raabta Courtesy Mensxp

Raabta Courtesy Mensxp

Raabta brings in a fresh pair of Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon. This is also the directorial debut for Dinesh Vijan. This is also presents Neerja’s villain, Jim Sarbh in a stylish avatar.

The story of Raabta is about a reincarnation triangle love story between Jilaan/Shiv (Sushant Singh Rajput), Saiba/Saira (Kriti Sanon) and Kaabir/Zak (Jim Sarbh) set in Budapest, Hungary.

Shiv gets a job in Budapest and soon walks into Saira’s chocolate shop and they fall in love until she meets Zak and then starts the spiral trip to the past.

Sushant is super happy in the film and unfortunately his terrible hair do in the past life character is irritating and his stunts are poorly executed. Jim Sarbh steals the show in both instances as the possessive Kaabir and billionaire Zak. But Kriti Sanon has done a wonderful job and you can see her gradient rising to complex roles. The makeup on Rajkummar Rao is excellent, you really can not tell it is him, he plays the role of a 300 year old ruler.

Director Dinesh Vijan has laid out the story nicely; only the visual effects need to still get better when they use animals. The comedy timing and rapport between the characters Shiv and Radha (Varun Sharma) are fun too. You can see Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra have influenced Dinesh.

Raabta is mixed with astrology, love and revenge. The supporting soundtrack, wonderful locations and quite decent performances by the actors hold you till the end.

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Vidya Lags Behind- Begum Jaan Review

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Begum Jaan

Begum Jaan has been the most anticipated release for a Vidya Balan film since her mega successful work in Kahaani. Begum Jaan has been written and directed by Srijit Mukherji who had earlier made the film in Bengali first, Rajkahini.

The expectations from the film have been high, especially since the plot is about how a brothel is at the Radcliffe Line dispute during the partition of India. Begum Jaan, played by Vidya Balan owns the brothel and has a supporting cast that includes Gauhar Khan (Rubina), Pallavi Sharda (Gulabo), Ila Arun (amma) and Sumit Nijhawan (Salim Mirza). Each officer handling the partition on behalf of the Governments of Pakistan, Muslim League Illias (Rajit Kapoor) and India, Congress Harshvardhan (Ashish Vidyarthi) visit Begum Jaan to hand over the eviction notice. She seeks the refugee of Rajaji (Naseerudin Shah) and he tries until he explains to her that times are changing and even Kings are no longer Kings. Thus, ultimately the women are left to defend themselves and the officers sub contract the dirty job to gangster Kabir (Chunkey Pandey) and obviously violence breaks out.

Begum Jaan is about a difficult real human story and it will shock you, there is no proof of whether it is based on a true story nevertheless if it did happen then the wounds of such a tragedy are still soar.

Vidya Balan is excellent, while Gauhar Khan, Pallavi Sharda and Chunkey Pandey surprise you. However the cinematography is poor and while the Director Srijit is trying to make you see things from their perspective with camera movement, it is shaky and almost amateur. The film meanwhile may have the potential to earn a National Award because of a very unusual dilemma yet prostitution is around us anyway.

Respectable Teachers- Film Review Chalk n Duster

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Chalk n Duster Courtesy Bolly Spice

Chalk n Duster Courtesy Bolly Spice

Chalk n Duster is not your average Bollywood masala movie and neither will it do well at the box office. The only high scores it will get will be from passionate students and respectable teachers.

Then why make this film? Bollywood is definitely changing and turning to more real and everyday characters who are heroes in their own way. Chalk n Duster thus talks of two such heroes, teachers- Vidya Sawant (Shabana Azmi) and Jyoti (Juhi Chawla) who are standing up to a corrupt and sadistic Principal Kamini Gupta (Divya Dutta).

Kamini wants the school to become a hangar joint for the rich and famous and in order to update her human resources she resorts to emotional abuse and physical torture. In the end, she tries to challenge the teachers with a quiz contest which is stylized like Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but alas she fails.

Chalk n Duster’s performances are incredible, especially that of Juhi Chawla who is seen as a regular person, regular teacher and surely deserves a National Award if possible. Divya Dutta is utterly convincing as a disgusting lady and Shabana Azmi is the eloquent master teacher.

The cameos by Jackie Shroff and Rishi Kapoor are hard-hitting, with actors of such calibre and experience they certainly enhance the profile and plot of the film.

This is a social film and if Aamir Khan had not been successful with his directorial film Taare Zameen Par, then films like Chalk n Duster would never have seen light of cinema.

Film Review- Fast & Furious 7

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Fast & Furious 7 Courtesy Sporteology

Fast & Furious 7 Courtesy Sporteology

Vin Diesel is one of the biggest actors in Hollywood because of his unique muscular bodies, philosophical dialogues, white vests and fast cars. He completes the Fast and Furious franchise with “Furious 7” on a both emotional and commercial note. Emotional because of the untimely death of his co-actor and ‘brother’ Paul Walker who died in a speed car crash; commercial because as one of the film’s producer he is expecting it to cross the $1 Billion Dollar mark and possibly even enter the Oscars 2016.

Here’s the film, Furious 7- set on the subject of vengeance where the brother to Owen Shaw, Deckard Shaw comes to seek the team of Fast and Furious for what they did to him in London. Our opening scene is immediately met with a fight sequence between a buffy Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and a stringy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) who does a lot of damage, gets the team information and is off on a quest. Vin Diesel who is Dominic Toretto puts family first and he starts to pay the price when Deckard bombs their home and sets off the revenge story.

There is still the memory loss, love lost tagging going on between Dominic and Lettie (Michelle Rodriguez) and one of their iconic scenes is Dominic holding a sledgehammer ready to bring down her gravestone. The second backstory is that Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) now has a family and is adjusting to it, or trying to and how will his new family with Mia (Jordana Brewster) face this new threat and come out of it.

The team has to go back to the drawing board and nobody wants to die, because already Deckard kills their Tokyo friend Han. But I think this was not enough for the film to run for its entire length of about 130 minutes so they decided to put another “save your world” situation. The officials approach Dominic to help them get “God’s Eye” software, which has been designed by a tech-lady and that, can track anywhere, anytime within seconds. This most wanted software and maker are also being hunted by a war lord Mose Jakande (Djimon Hounsou) and partners with Deckard to finish the Furious 7 team who have been hired by the officials represented by Kurt Russell to return the software and the tech-lady so it goes into the right hands.

Finally the film is settling down to its core, fast cars and a chase. But there is a big sense of Bollywood going on. The flying cars scene is like the film Race 2 and at some point you think are you watching an Abbas-Mustaan film? The Ferrari going through the Towers in Abu Dhabi was also dumb. The head on collision between Deckard and Dominic was also silly and then they fight with rods, the parking lot collapses but somehow Deckard comes out without a scratch, how?

Also how can a fully armed helicopter flying over LA miss so many cars and not kill the Furious 7? It was like watching someone playing an Xbox game and missing the target so badly.

The bus hanging on the cliff reminding you of a Speed film still though and the exchange of the tech-lady from one car to another were cool.

On the performance end, Vin Diesel is looking hurt and emotional. Michelle Rodriguez looks old, Dwayne Johnson pulls his weight around, Paul Walker is a ghost, Jason Statham was a horrible, bored, tired villain, and they could have had a better choice. Kurt Russell does his fair charm, but the shiny stars were Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. They were on point, a little funny and kept the movie moving forward. It was nice to Bollywood’s Ali Fazal (Fukrey, Khamoshiyaan & Bobby Jasoos) playing the role of the rich man in Abu Dhabi, his performance was good.

Finally Fast and Furious 7 reaches the finish line, was it worth it? Yes if you are a mega fan of the films so far and it was a good end. Director James Wan showed off his love for the series, knew how to place the cars and use them but he can do with more body of work to become a John Woo (Mission: Impossible).

 

 

Politics & Films, How Bollywood Made Some Changes 2014

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Salman Khan As Chulbul Pandey (Courtesy IBN Live)

Salman Khan As Chulbul Pandey (Courtesy IBN Live)

NaMo, NaMo- a slogan I have been noticing on Social Media and on several emails about the need for change and bring in Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India.

On Friday 16th May, 14 President of Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi conceded defeat and the Bharatiya Janata Party members began celebrations. Later that night I watched his speeches at Vadodra and Ahmedabad and it got me thinking about several things.

2014 will be remembered for a momentous and historic election in India, what happens after this is what will make the real change. Will Mr Modi and his party deliver what they have said to win the Election? Was there already a change already taking place or the cry for help?

I haven’t studied Indian politics formally or deeply and use the Bollywood films as reference because I believe films are a glimpse of the reality. Several films in the last few years released have been based on politics, human rights or governance. The character of Chulbul Pandey in the film Dabangg may be called the starting point, where they gave a complete new look to a Police Officer and actor Salman Khan was at his best ever performance. Soon, every other actor wanted to be a Police Officer and several of them followed such as Ajay Devgn in Singham, most with the message, take pride in being a Police Officer, stand up to injustice and wipe out corruption and bad men.

It is true that the stories and inception can take off many years before the actual release of the film, but it doesn’t take long to see that nearly every other Bollywood film has a message for the citizens of India and the need for change. Therefore I have picked the top 15 recently patriotic films:

1-    Commando

2-    Gulaab Gang

3-    Dabanng

4-    Singham

5-    Raajneeti

6-    Gori Tere Pyar Mein

7-    Youngistaan

8-    Bhootnath Returns

9-    Shahid

10-Kai Po Che

11-Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

12-Ranjhanna

13-Satyagraha

14-No One Killed Jessica

15-Force

 

 

 

Shame, Shame, Shame- “Ram-Leela: Goliyon Ki Raasleela” Film Review

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English: Sanjay Leela Bhansali at X Factor Fin...

English: Sanjay Leela Bhansali at X Factor Finalists Introduction Event. Photo: FilmiTadka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A mega producer, successful director and musician Sanjay Leela Bhansali was highly disappointing with his film “Ram-Leela”. The posters looked great and the trailers were catchy after all two of Bollywood’s Stars looked hotter than ever, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.

But without wasting much time, here goes.

This rip off from William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet didn’t even come close to that. Two families fighting for territory in the guns and drug business, and then comes a love story. Ok, so far not bad but when Ranveer Singh’s character Ram is a leader in distributing blue films and encouraging pornography, it’s getting disgusting. When Deepika who is playing Leela comes across as a dumb bimbo it’s getting more irritating and you want to shoot them down just like their “Diskiyaoon” Song, horrible.

The Gujarati or Rajastahni influence, culture, city whatever you want to call it is degrading and distasteful and sometimes even desperate. Did Sanjay really make this film? Yes he did because a few scenes are his signature, the house with a pond/the heroine and hero seduction song by this pond “Ang Laga De”, the colorful mass dance, “Lahu Muh Lag Gaya” and then the make up and costumes, a heroine hopelessly in love, a sister-in-law fight for her rights. This was Ranveer and Deepika’s worst film ever.

The story should have shown the transformation of Ram and Leela as the new gang leaders before Intermission and then wait to see how the seat of power takes over their lane of love and what triumphs rather than their silly suicide.

Finally with the already oppressed women and rape that they undergo nearly every second, was this song justified? Films don’t offer moral values and certainly not enough in Bollywood, but when Stars like Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra take part in such songs, then you have to wonder where morality lies versus entertainment.

 

 

When You Obsess You Will Be Destroyed- Raanjhanaa Film Review

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English: Indian composer A.R. Rahman opens the...

English: Indian composer A.R. Rahman opens the studios at Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International film school. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Indian actress Sonam Kapoor

English: Indian actress Sonam Kapoor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was only recently I watched a TV show where the main topic was if the heroes from the South of India creating a buzz in the North of India. I know it sounds strange but this Billion population has two mega-film industries, Bollywood and Tollywood.

Actor Dhanush surely is creating the buzz and he will be remembered as the first South Hero to do so, in his film Raanjhanaa. It was not long ago that his song “Kolaveri Di” became the first viral YouTube song in India and soon caught the attention of the world. He is also the son-in-law to the mega super star of Tollywood, Mr Rajnikant so some actor abilities are bound to spread.

English: Dhanush at a function in chennai

English: Dhanush at a function in chennai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other interesting newcomer is the director, Anand Rai, even though he is nearly four films old, Raanjhanaa has made a mark for him. Yes, his last film “Tanu Weds Manu” was a semi-hit and perhaps thats where Anand realized was his strength, romance. He kept Raanjhanaa authentic with the backdrop of India’s famous city, Benaras, located on the banks of the river Ganges. The story of Raanjhanaa has been written by Himanshu Sharma who has worked with Anand Rai before and it looks like this tag-team is going to have more success.

A simple boy falls in love and never gives up, despite religious differences, 16 slaps and slitting wrists. What makes the character of Kundan played by Dhanush very adorable is well the person Dhanush, its as if he is being himself and delivers with honesty and conviction. This Benaras boy doesn’t let you down till the end of the film, there are no fancy stunts for him or long lines of dialogue or dreamy songs, he is just being himself. That is also the strength of the film because even the heroine of the story is Zoya, played by Sonam Kapoor and till the end she remains true to her character. Zoya is a simple but well educated Muslim girl who only briefly falls in love with Romeo Kundan until she meets her Prince Charming Akram Zaidi, played by Abhay Deol and the wedding bells are about to ring. This brings in the main twist of the film and before you know it, there is more than meets the eye.

English: Abhay Deol at the 2009 Toronto Intern...

English: Abhay Deol at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

The backdrop of student politics maturing into real party politics has been cleverly used and in the middle of all this is Kundan’s undying love. This film is a winner in many ways and the music by the maestro A R Rahman, make it even more worth it.

 

 

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