Film Review: Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)

THE AGING CRAWLEYS

In 1928, the Crawleys meet with two unexpected events knocking at their door. One is an opportunity to boost their finance when a film production company requests to use their estate for a silent film. Two, Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, astounds the family when she reveals that she inherits a villa in France that was given to her by the recently deceased Marquis de Montmirail. To unveil the mystery, Robert and Cora travel to France and hand over the headship to Lady Mary to look after the estate and host the film crew.

Twelve years of legacy of this British cult Downton Abbey that all started as a television drama on ITV back in 2010 and followed by the first feature film in 2019 has kept its loyal fans like me occupied on our chairs and enjoying the beautiful artistry of their aristocracy. One aspect that was maintained throughout their presentation is that the show remained persistent in facing not only emotional but economic and political challenges. Just like the television drama and the first film, Downton Abbey: The New Era emphasized the changing times testing the old and traditional family.


LADY VIOLET’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

There is a chance that the Downton Abbey-loving audience may get less motivated towards the plot of this film because both the events challenged in this film to the Crawleys may be assumed quite dramatic because these things neither occurred nor hinted at the future. The fan-favorite character of Lady Violet was assumed to die due to old age but the news she broke to the family after watching this drama for twelve years looked like a pretty forced attempt of writing in order to conclude this character. So revealing the news of her French inheritance is eyebrow-raising for me.

Why? If I assess this matter, perhaps will stretch at length but in short, the Crawleys, in the middle of the story met a severe financial crisis to the extent that they decided to cut the working staff. If the dowager knew about her inheritance for a long time, why didn’t she help out Robert when needed. If she came to know in this film in 1928, that’s the other thing.

But the death of Lady Violet’s character is a wise idea because I am not sure if Downton Abbey will continue to the third film although the story has the potential to continue to represent the Crawleys until the second World War if not the whole century. But it is the richness of Julian Fellowes‘ writing that I am concerned about, who is 72 already. How long can he continue storytelling us? What if he breathes his last during the continuity of Downton Abbey? I cannot imagine someone replacing his writing in the middle. After all, this Downton Abbey is his creation and needs to conclude one day. The same applies to Maggie Smith who is 87 at the time of writing this review. Therefore, killing the old character of the dowager was the right decision.


WAS FILM SHOOTING IN THE PLOT THE RIGHT IDEA?

This Downton Abbey film was particular to highlight this silent film industry business that reached the estate of the Crawleys. Shan’t film shooting be avoided and continued with a different plot? Here, there are two methods of judging this film. One is that the film didn’t need to show filmmaking and proceed with the familiar character developments. The audience may think that Julian Fellowes could have escaped the idea of shooting a film inside the estate for the sake of decent humor. Or the film definitely needed to show the change which was either acceptable or not to the old-age aristocratic family who has been facing economic, political, and social challenges. I support the latter.

Why? Because just like the Crawleys faced different events between 1912 and 1926, the art of filmmaking in the very same period was also meeting a change in the direction of the British winds. Many viewers may have not observed the sequence of shooting a silent film turning into sound after Lady Mary pinches the idea to the director that much of this is largely inspired by the making of Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1929 film ‘Blackmail‘ which is the first sound film in British filmmaking history. Blackmail was supposed to be a silent film but the producer let Hitchcock make some portions of the film in sound. But Hitchcock decided to make the entire film talkie. Just like depicted in Downton Abbey, Blackmail had a leading actress with a weak English accent and was dubbed by someone else. Moreover, Downton Abbey’s executive producer Gareth Neame is the grandson of Ronald Neame and was the assistant cameraman for ‘Blackmail’ before he established a prominent name in the film industry.


CLOSING REMARKS

Should Downton Abbey continue from here? I would love to see Julian Fellowes writing more about the Crawleys until the end of the Second World War if he guarantees that the aesthetics and quality will not compromise at all. Overall, Julian Fellowes offers another masterpiece presentation of the Crawleys with the visible ‘New Era’ elements. The loyalists of this drama will understand the film and praise it highly.

RATINGS: 8.2/10

TV Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife is the new HBO romantic miniseries about Henry who has the unusual ability to time travel and meets Clare of different ages. With time, Henry’s tolerance of the power begins to irritate and Clare faces difficulties to manage him.

I neither happened to read Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel nor did I watch Eric Bana/Rachel McAdams starred film with the same title. The popularity of this HBO show was making rounds so I thought to check the trailer and found this strange plot pretty riveting.

A bigger impression about the show is that Steven Moffat has written and created it and one of the best TV directors, David Nutter, has directed all six episodes.

I found the first half compelling but the second half looked off. Perhaps the crafting of the plot was limited enough to stretch and lead it somewhere. Maybe I am wrong to judge that because the novel itself is around 550 pages. But to my thinking capacity, the story was neither progressing nor jumping to a conclusion. Henry kept traveling time and got naked which began to bore me as this plot was not engaging towards opening some other chapters or mysteries.

The nature of this plot is unsurprisingly very sexual and I think HBO was pretty sober for not crossing this line which I feel was important.

The biggest plus of the show is the onscreen chemistry of Theo James as Henry and Rose Leslie as Clare. They were committed to melting our emotions. Their meetings, their fights, and their romantic fluctuations were beautifully picturized. I am not going to declare that the show was disappointing, not at all. It was interesting, the show had its moments where the audience can burn in the sequences like the second episode about the fate of Henry’s mother.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
Theo James, Rose Leslie
Photograph by Macall B. Polay/HBO

Such romantic time-traveling may have its breaking points but I believe Moffat-Nutter could have pressed this art more critically and showed us what else could Henry and Clare have possibly done in that limited space before Henry starts coughing.

Personally, I loved this show but on the scale of judgment, I’ll say the show with this plot could have been a lot better.

Film Review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

In a space between two different universes, America Chavez and Doctor Strange are chased and attacked by a demon that kills the latter. Chavez creates a portal and transports herself and Strange’s corpse to Earth-616, the universe on which most of the Marvel films are based. Chavez meets Strange and Wong and informs the threat the world faces because of her ability to travel the multiverse. When Strange consults Wanda about this urgent matter, he realizes that it was her who attacked Chavez to get her powers so that she can reunite with her family that she created in the tv show WandaVision.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, Benedict Wong as Wong, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange in Marvel Studios’ DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

I am not sure if the plot is inspired by any comic book storyline but if I assume this to be an original screenplay then I will say this is a superb story to continue the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During all this process, making us watch WandaVision last year totally worked because that limited series completely developed Wanda’s character that build a lot of rage that came from her own madness. The connectivity in the MCU has always been impressive and as usual, this film also played the card exceptionally well.

A kind of story presented to the audience, I opine to have watched more superheroes involved due to the fact that Wanda’s threat to the human race should have alerted most of them if not all. Strange didn’t bother to seek assistance from anyone because this was actually a threat on a massive scale nor did anyone sense and showed up himself/herself. Being situated mostly in the same city, one must be thinking about where most of the saviors go in a particular superhero film when the city is under threat.

Introduction of America Chavez to the MCU is quite raw and director Sam Raimi should have touched on her origins in a proper way. Standing on memory lane is certainly not enough. And due to the fact that Chavez’s character remains unbaked, it was more awkward to watch such an important storyline, a game-changer in the MCU, was constructed between Strange and Wanda for Chavez.

One aspect that I felt betrayed and annoyed about in the film was killing all the members of the Illuminati. You just introduced them to the audience and gave us chills to watch the return of Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. If that wasn’t enough, the makers fulfilled the everlasting wish to see John Krasinsky as Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four and Hayley Atwell as Captain Carter. To my surprise, they even brought back Anson Mount as Black Bolt that he played in Inhumans, a show that met with extreme disappointment. And Sam Raimi killed them within twenty minutes. Despite the fact that those were alternate characters from different timelines, it was still cruel to kill the characters like that. I expected an exciting start by Illuminati in the MCU but all in vain.

I personally felt that the film was running hurriedly. Also, Sam Raimi’s direction gave the audience a little edge to hang on because the rollercoaster ride in the MCU films is almost alike. This film was a bit birdy but sloppy with less number of sequences shot with some care. In this film, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch is the winner as she impresses by executing her tragic character so well. Wanda has to be the best-developed character in the MCU that was written and continued with meticulous care.

Overall, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a sublime effort in carrying the torch of the MCU. It was a difficult script for a very significant moment in the universe. I won’t say that the film surpassed all the expectations, a hype that was built through the trailers but it was not even bad at all. This sequel was way better than the first Doctor Strange film.

RATINGS: 6.7/10

Film Review: Morbius (2022)

Dr. Michael Morbius has had a rare blood condition since childhood and his adoptive father sends him to a medical school in New York. He becomes a top biologist and tries to find a cure for his disease and in this process, he runs some blood tests on himself that turns him into a vampire.

At first, the film held some promises when Morbius finds a cure and tries to eradicate the disease. But after turning into a vampire, the screenplay met a severe low and the film in its entirety became predictable at a very lazy pace.

The continuity of the film gave no impression and at halfway mark, my interest in the film was lost due to some reasons. One, the direction is ordinary, there is no depth, and lacks subtlety. Two, a superb selection of actors but below-average performances. Jared Harris as Dr. Nicholas is wasted due to less screen time, and Matt Smith was disappointing. What is Tyrese Gibson doing?

Three, the script has ridiculous plotholes and if not, then it is a very confusing script to direct. How did so many Costa Rican bats get trapped in the first scene when they flew out from the cave in the open air? How come only Dr. Bancroft became a vampire after the bite but the other victims stayed dead? How did the trapped bats assist Morbius to defeat Milo when these were locked in the lab? How come no one in the subway got frightened by two vampires fighting?

The existence of Michael Keaton as Vulture is very confusing. How is he transported? I thought Strange‘s magic spell placed everyone in their respective universes. So how come Adrian Toomes knows about Spiderman and asks Morbius to team against him? And how did Toomes gear up? Milo revealed to Michael in the prison that he also used a blood plastic flask in his absence. But the major concern is how come the security didn’t find out the flask in his pocket? He lied about his being a lawyer. How come he couldn’t get caught at the security checking. Did he show them his fake lawyer card or what?

Morbius makes the audience boo because there is nothing much to be impressed with. To some extent, Jared Leto played his part of Morbius pretty well but certainly not one of the roles he will be remembered for. And Leto-Smith’s onscreen brotherhood was a delight that translated their roles into pains and tears of their origins that leads to need and greed due to which they began to fight. But Smith’s character development was extremely immature. The film needed to drop some minutes in Smith’s Milo turning evil after drinking the blood.

Morbius is easily one of the worst superhero films produced in recent years. A film that missed almost every element to impress the audience.

RATINGS: 3/10

TV Review: Jimmy Savile – A British Horror Story

A HORROR STORY

Once upon a time, there was a radio and television presenter in Britain back in the 1960s. He began to host BBC‘s Top Of The Pops and became a well-known celebrity. In the 1970s, he was known to fix any of children’s desires and wishes in the show, Jim’ll Fix It. On the show, he would receive thousands and thousands of letters, and he would attend a few of these and read it to the audience. The letters were full of children writing to him to grant their wishes. And he didn’t break their hearts; on the contrary, he won them.

Already establishing himself as the British messiah, the hospitals sought his help to raise money for good. And he listened to their calls and believe it or not, he raised around £40 million in charity. This is a massive number to raise in those times. His reputation was cemented to be a Godly man who is humble, the most respected, the dearest, and the kindest to everyone.

Wherever he went, people would gather around, wait for his glimpse for hours, take autographs, take pictures, and feel blessed that he kissed them. He befriended the former British premier Margaret Thatcher and the Royal Family. He became some cult, some saint. He became their national hero who served the country once in the great war and then contributed to philanthropy throughout his life.

And then one day, he died. The British media was mourning, and the general public was mourning. His followers forwarded their prays, and goodbyes and many came to the memorial service to have a glimpse of the coffin where he lies. He was people’s servant. They all believed that Lord took his life, a soul departed to conclude an era of dedication to put the public in staunch grief or melancholy. But what they didn’t realize was that his death was actually Lord’s act of goodwill to put a halt to the horror he implanted in scores of British lives that they never realized or got to know about in more than fifty years.

Almost a year after his death, plenty of reports surfaced, and a thorough investigation that involved police and the media concluded to the nation’s utter shock that he had sexually abused/assaulted more than four hundred people, mostly underaged, as young as five. London’s Metropolitan Police (Met) began Operation Yewtree to investigate the allegations and concluded with a report that counted the victims to be more than five hundred. The Guardian claimed in 2014 that the number of his victims was more than one thousand. That man was Jimmy Savile.

A few years ago, when I came to know about who Jimmy Savile was, I was stunned to realize that he abused most of those children during his time at the BBC and the National Health Service (NHS); how come no one raised the concerns or doubts about his mysterious personal life. How come Jimmy Savile never got caught in fifty years?


English disc jockey Jimmy Savile (1926 – 2011) presenting the BBC music chart show ‘Top Of The Pops’, UK, circa 1973. He is wearing a personalised tracksuit. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

THE DOCUMENTARY

I had the curiosity to know the right and convincing answers to my years-old questions. Thankfully, Netflix decided to commission a two-part documentary about that sex predator, Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story. And by watching this show, I got a lot of insiders about this psycho. The documentary has plenty of footage that depicts his charms and charisma that were hiding his heinous saga for decades.

The two parts are smartly divided. The first part gives the audience thought about Jimmy Savile as the ever-caring servant of children who appeals to granting their wishes and also gives an insider about how Jimmy Savile rose to prominence to a magnitude where he saw himself in the company of the most powerful politicians. In the second part, the filmmakers try to locate the signs where Jimmy Savile came close to being caught.

The documentary’s biggest success is convincing its audience that Jimmy Savile successfully manipulated and made a fool out of the entire nation. There is numerous footage in the show where Jimmy, in the interview, is asked about the personal, sexual, and emotional aspects of his private life. And Jimmy, in response, speaks a tone and uses such one-liners that the audience takes him lightly and believes to be his usual jokes. This documentary proves that Jimmy was the smartest not to be caught. He had all the answers, he was quick wit. And he had the propensity to tackle any given question and reply without wasting a second and that too shamelessly. He was so powerful that it never mattered if he will ever be caught. He knew he was the authority. If anyone complained, no one would believe a word against him.

My jaw kept dropping and dropping when I observed with rage that he was giving all the clues and referring to his listeners about the things he did horrible all these decades but the audience was laughing and assuming as if he was joking. Especially when he joked that his case comes up next Thursday.

Who would have believed him? He was the master of deception. He had influence, he was an inspiration to the British for what he did in philanthropy. No one would ever believe that he can stoop that low to possibly force the girls as young as eight to have sex with him, someone who was close friends with the Royal Family and Margaret Thatcher.

Although the documentary has tried its best to give its audience a feeling of deception from this disgusting pervert, I sense that this documentary unintentionally gave a lot of insider about his humanitarian efforts. The reason why I am saying this is because the most reckoning part of Jimmy Savile’s life in brutal crimes was when he died. The post-death revelation on Britain and the rest of the world is hardly half an hour in the show. And due to such an incredibly less number of minutes, the makers and researchers couldn’t do justice to the broader detailing of the investigation at length.

Yes, the documentary was successful in setting a tone in which the viewers, especially those who didn’t know who that pedophile was, developed a genuine feeling of hatred by the end of the first episode. But the makers focused on his social contribution pretty much. Through this documentary, I was eager to watch more about his post-death events when Met began to receive complaints that led to investigations. I was more interested to watch some of those kids in their adulthood narrating their horror incident with Jimmy Savile. I wanted the makers to adopt no holds barred just like Jimmy Savile did all his life.

In every capacity, this Netflix documentary has raised global awareness and addressed the threat. It was the technology that almost caught him. The doubts and allegations were bundling when he decided to depart. I feel Jimmy Savile was unluckily so lucky to escape from all the penalties and punishment. He would be laughing in his grave that he left the world unpunished after all the crimes he committed.


CLOSING REMARKS

So who is responsible for creating Jimmy Savile out of Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile? (Yes, he was knighted in 1990). I firmly believe that the Thatcher government and the BBC are to be fully blamed. They surely had some idea. I refuse to believe that no one in the BBC or in the Thatcher government ever built a doubt or raised eyebrows about his offenses. I have read on the internet that he assaulted and raped many children and adults in television dressing rooms, hospitals, schools, children’s homes, and his caravan.

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story is a reminder of the disgraced that depicts one of Britain’s darkest chapters that inflicts an eternal regret about the irresponsibility of the higher commands who chose to stay silent, see no evil hear no evil, and also preferred not to address the elephant in the room.

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (2007)

A space alien Sir Reginald Hargreeves, a.k.k.a The Monocle, is a world-renowned scientist and a wealthy entrepreneur on earth. He adopts seven superpowered children who raise them as superheroes. They are called The Umbrella Academy. Years later, after failing a mission in Paris, they split. Twenty years later, they return after they receive the news of the death of their adopted father, The Monocle.

 

The Umbrella Academy was abstracted by the leading vocalist and co-founder of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way. In 2007, Way completed the writing and visual artwork of the first comic book limited series ‘Apocalypse Suite‘ with the cartoonist Gabriel Bá. Dark Horse Comics published the graphic novel and was first presented in the annual promotional event Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) the same year. The first issue was immediately sold out and indicated staunch interest amongst the readers. By next year, this graphic novel won Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.

There are six issues in the graphic novel and each consists of 23 or 24 pages. Gabriel’s artistic work and characterization will somewhere remind the reader of Frank Miller‘s work on The Dark Knight Returns. The drawings are not really that captivating but I liked the sub-cover art pages of the issue titles. Yes, there are some pages that need attention to the detailing like Pogo testing number 5 and news reporting in the third issue. Or Kraken shutting down Vanya when she returns. I liked Vanya’s character development where it reflected that she wasn’t taken seriously and no one cared about her. Those two dark pages of music notes were quivering. Pogo’s soft corner for Vanya was also highlighted.

Twelve years later, Netflix adapted and created the streaming television series. In the first month of release, the show was watched by 45 million viewers and became one of the biggest hits of the year. The show achieved cult status and critical acclaim thanks to well-executed screenwriting.

This is not strange that the adaptation gets a license to make changes for visual dynamics to captivate the audience but I felt the sources taken from Apocalypse Suite were modified and to some extent, looked acceptable. Just, for example, Vanya’s characterization; in comics, Vanya is powerful when she unleashes her powers by playing violin but in the show, she uses any sound wave. Ben (number 6) is almost invisible in the novel but has a fine supporting role like any of the other six. Ben and Klaus (number 4) are good friends in the show and are comic relief and fan favorites. So observing these two changes, I think no one will have an objection.

Yes, there were elements that raised the eyebrows like Klaus and Vanya were LGBTQ+ characters and were not in comics. Maybe that’s a Netflix thing and this Netflix show is no different in making those choices for the established characters.

But I think Apocalypse Suite is a very interesting beginning of the series that continues its story in the next three novels, Dallas (2008), Hotel Oblivion (2018), and Sparrow Academy.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite Issues 1-6 (2007-2008)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/


SUPPORTING VIDEO

If you are interested to watch the commentary about the history of The Umbrella Academy, I recommend you watch this video.

Book Review: Jo Dekha, Jo Suna.. (2007)

WHY I CHOSE TO READ THIS BOOK?

A few months ago, I happened to read Tariq Ali’s “The Leopard and the Fox” which was a script for the show BBC commissioned him in 1985 to write about the final days of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister and the founder of Pakistan People Party (PPP), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The project was shelved for being anti-Zia-ul-Haq.

Bhutto’s leadership in Pakistan has always been a talking point whenever the country’s political history has been reflected. During the entire political fiasco the country has suffered, it is worth observing that Zulfikar’s political career was confronted with three of the four military phases. Under Ayub Khan, Bhutto was the Foreign Minister. Yahya Khan handed over his presidency and his government to Bhutto after the fall of East Pakistan. Zia-ul-Haq was Bhutto’s second Chief of Army Staff who later became the reason for his death.

Zulfikar’s political legacy and fresh memories of reading the previous book on Bhutto-Zia prompted me to read Qayyum Nizami’s political analysis of the PPP’s prime era and the memoir of Bhutto in the shape of almost a 500-page book, ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ (What I Saw, What I Heard).


WRITING STYLE AND DETAILING

Although, a book with such lengthy detailing does not really buy me as a reader as I feel that the author has heavily sugar-coated Bhutto’s heroics and overpraised him. I adore Bhutto’s style of addressing and his leadership, the man had the courage to raise his voice against the military dictatorship and address eye-to-eye with the United States. But the flaw is in the style of writing that makes ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ look like some propaganda project.

On page.192, there is a detailed chronological timeline of the Bhutto government’s activities. In these pages, I noticed that a lot of times Bhutto government got loans from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, etc. Why the author doesn’t explain the reason for asking for loans? Pakistan in 2022 still continues the tradition of receiving loans from the IMF and other countries but this history book should have highlighted, why Pakistan was receiving loans fifty years ago.

Bhutto was, without a doubt, a great leader but the author being his disciple has glorified Bhutto and made me think if I was reading a biography of God but not Bhutto. Almost every turn of a page has dramatic praises for him. There is literally a line on page.176 where the author compares Bhutto’s martyrdom with Hussain’s by writing that “Pakistan and third world countries regret Bhutto’s martyrdom just like Islamic world regrets with Hussain’s.”

And then there are various incidents or statements that make you think if the authenticity compromises. The author writes on page.119 about one night during the times of Pakistan military and government officials’ humiliating surrender before the Indian Army, Bhutto’s daughter Benazir enters her father’s room and notices that he is lying on the floor instead of in bed. When she asks the reason then Bhutto replies, “How can I sleep on the bed when 90,000 soldiers sleep on the floor of Indian camps?” Maybe this reads very inspiring to the other readers but I feel as if this is a reel incident but not real.

On page.38, the author states that former Indian Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died of a heart attack. He didn’t bother to clarify that Shastri’s death is still a mystery despite the reason for his passing being announced to be a heart attack. But the author finds it more important to inform the readers that the-then Foreign Secretary Aziz Ahmed called Shastri a bastard.


INTERESTING HIGHLIGHTS

‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ is not really full of a disciple glossing his party and the leader in its entirety, there are many pages that are either of some critical significance or heartwarming. I really liked reading about the relationship between Bhutto and his wife, Nusrat. In the earliest pages, there is a chapter where Nusrat Bhutto gives details about how she and Zulfikar came to know each other and tied the knot. In the middle of the book, a chapter reflects on the entire meeting of Nusrat and Benazir with Bhutto in prison a day before he was hanged, and that was pretty heart-boiling to read, picturizing and imagining how things would have gone between these Bhuttos.

‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ also offers to read Bhutto’s memorable speeches that are stretched to around fifty pages. The book has documented a lot of letters that Bhutto father and daughter wrote to the author and vice versa. There, also, are letters by famous British philosopher Bertrand Russell to different global leaders of that time praising Bhutto and sharing his point of view about his political vision. There also are over a hundred rare pictures of Bhutto, Benazir, and Qayyum Nizami during various political events.

One of the last chapters of the book covers politicians, journalists, and people from other fields of work briefing their own ‘What they saw, What they heard’ to the readers. Some events and incidents are interesting.


LAHORE, PAKISTAN, APR 08: Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader, Hamza Shahbaz leaving
after court case hearing, at High Court in Lahore on Monday, April 08, 2019. The Lahore High
Court (LHC) granted Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader, Hamza Shahbaz pre-arrest bail till
April 17 and restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting him in cases
pertaining to ownership of assets beyond means. (Babar Shah/PPI Images).

CLOSING REMARKS

Qayyum Nizami is a veteran politician and columnist who played an important role in Bhutto’s party. He had close political relations with both Bhutto and Benazir. ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’ is his extensive insider about the struggling times of his leader and the party.

The motive for reading the book is that the reader acquires knowledge. Bibliophiles cannot remember every word or page of the book they read but naturally, our brain has the obvious capacity to store at least one to twenty percent of the information that is collected from the book. By reading ‘Jo Dekha Jo Suna’, it doesn’t matter whether I liked reading this book or not, I get some clues and rough ideas about the existence of the party, the Bhutto administration, and the political conflicts of his time, and that is what is valuable for me.


TV Review: Mai (2022)

Sheel Chaudhary works as a nurse in an old-age home and belongs to a middle-class family. Her daughter Supriya is mute and performs stand-up comedy in her college. One day, Sheel senses that Supriya is hiding something about her. And when she tries to express herself, she gets hit by a speeding truck and dies on the spot. Post-funeral, Sheel gets to understand that Supriya didn’t die from an accident, she was murdered and then the mother’s quest for the hidden answers behind the mystery begins.

To be honest, I like Mai‘s story and how this is continued in six episodes. But there are a lot of points that make the outcome, the finished product, look no finesse. The crafting of the show doesn’t give that strong impact.

One major flaw of the show is zero expressions of Sakshi Tanwar in some critical scenes. She didn’t get lost when Supriya suddenly got hit by the truck, it was more surprising than the accident. She killed Jawahar which was a game-changer but she didn’t get mad about it. Sheel bravely confronting the underground crime is unimaginable. She is ridiculed and insulted by the goons through verbal solid abuse and she behaves as if this is normal to her. When she emotionally breaks in front of her husband, she doesn’t utilize shouting at full throttle. Maybe Sakshi’s voice is like that but I imagine a motherly role going fully paranoid at her applied scenario. She is, without a doubt, an impressive actress but in a given role, I expected more rage and craziness.

The foundation of this show, Supriya’s death, is the most senseless sequence. I have never understood the idea of a character getting killed by a vehicle suddenly crashing into him/her. How is that possible first of all even if used for horror-feel? How come the characters involved before the accident are unable to detect the sound of a running vehicle? This was a truck! Sheel and Supriya kept communicating and couldn’t hear a truck coming toward them? You got to be kidding us. And then Supriya’s injuries by a speeding truck were laughable.

After a long time, I watch Prashant Narayanan and give another impressive performance. And I fail to understand how come this actor still didn’t get the deserving recognition in this showbiz. This actor is on par with Nawazudding Siddiqui and can give him a tough time in any given role. He has been criminally underrated for around twenty years. I really hope to see him getting ranked somewhere in the age of streaming services where many underrated actors are making their names.

Wamiqa Gabbi, Ankur Ratan, and Raima Sen were all first-rate. Seema Pahwa had an extremely short character that needed a push. Mai has a strong hold on violence. And overall, manages to give a kind of thriller the audience wants to watch. I just feel that Mai could have tested Sheel’s central characterization.

Film Review: Toolsidas Junior (2022)

Toolsidas (Rajiv Kapoor) is a snooker player who, every year, loses the final of the Snooker Championship to Jimmy Tandon (Dilip Tahil). Humiliated by the losing streak, Toolsidas’s son Midi vows to learn snooker and defeat his father’s rival and settle the dust.

Toolsidas Junior is the director Mridul Mahendra‘s story. So if this story is true then he holds the liberty to dramatize his account if he wants to. It is an interesting story and from the cinematic point of view, a very predictable film. Besides, this story is unable to justify its importance due to extremely weak filmmaking that subdues plotholes and stretches the script needlessly.

Due to inexperience in film direction, the director fails to understand what scenes didn’t need to stretch and which scenes had the potential to expand. Just for an example, Midi’s coach arrives in the tournament’s final to watch him. The staff knows him and are surprised that he is none other than the former Snooker champion who trained him; and here the audience will realize that there was something about the coach the director failed to include – some character development. Our instincts will develop a theory here that perhaps they knew him personally or met in their primes. It would have been so better if the director had bothered to reflect on the coach’s character.

The first forty minutes of screen time gave me a regret-feel because the buildup in the plot was unimpressive and a needless comedy was very forced. The writing of this film was really below-par.

Sanjay Dutt as Midi’s coach Mohammad Salaam is the biggest plus of the film. After a long time, the audience will get excited to watch his performance. In his usual baba-style, it looks very inspiring when he tries to inject spirit in Midi that the game is not played for winning but for playing. The Midi kid Varun Buddhadev was quite an excellent selection and showed some glimpses of acting promises.

I just don’t understand one point. What took so long for Rajiv Kapoor to return to the film industry? He returned to the silver screen in more than thirty years. I am not saying that he was impressive but he fairly played his role and I feel he could have been in a lot of films doing some average or above-average supporting roles. Unfortunately, this was Rajiv’s final film as he died last year. Therefore, Toolsidas Junior is a posthumous release.

One thing I liked about the film is that I happened to watch a sports drama based on a very different sport. So India doesn’t stick to one sport and the filmmakers are eager to focus on different sports stories. Yes, I believe that the film deserved a better director to give justice to Mridul’s story.

RATINGS: 4/10