All posts by Sami Naik

Writer | Poet | Book-Reader | Globetrotter | Blogger | Film-Critic

Film Review: The Fabelmans (2022)

STORY

The Fabelmans are a Jewish family that lives in New Jersey. One night, Mitzi and Burt take their son Sammy to a cinema to watch ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. Sammy takes a special interest in the action sequences and gets overwhelmed by watching a train crashing scene. This moment of his life begins to shape his fondness for filmmaking but the domestic troubles of the dysfunctional family frequently interrupt his purpose in life.

With time, he understands by working with the cameras that shooting films from different angles gives more exposure and can fetch heavy consequences.


INTRODUCTION

Sometimes, you are so successful that it becomes important to let people know that reaching this grand stage and receiving a standing ovation comes with a price. Passion for something drives you to difficult paths. There are more chances of dislikes and refusals than acceptance especially if you are white in the United States of America but not Christian.

Shaming over faith, face and name was the norm after the Great War because many European immigrants moved to America. I am not talking about the Black history here, that is a separate chapter that highlights the extreme racism and cruelty over more than 300 years. Here, I am talking about the Jewish immigrants who suffered tough times but later on, progressed.


REVIEW

The Fabelmans is the latest play from the never-aging artistry of the illustrious career of Steven Spielberg. It is his most personal film to date because Sammy Fabelman is him.

The Fabelmans is based on the Spielbergs where the legendary director opens up in all honesty about his first crush on filmmaking, the parental bridge that collapsed, the choice his parents asked him to make other than filming, the fire that ignited by distrust, and much more.

The Fabelmans are every household that relates their troubles with them. It is a drama that points out that the relationship of humans with mistakes is infinite to waste precious time in regretting something that has passed. It will hurt you all your life but the passion for something will drive you through it.

Because, it is a hybrid of psychology and philosophy that when you love something that begins to construct your life on that, the herbs of agitation and pains of the troubling past connect with it. And I observed this theory of mine perfectly dramatized in ‘The Fabelmans’. As much as Sammy Fabelman grew on his passion, the subjectivity of life’s precious discomforts become more visible in his work.


TURNING POINT

Can you observe what was the turning point in the film? Where did Sammy find chutzpah? If we simplify the plot, the family blessed and broke him as the story continued to age. But where was the moment he came to the senses that propelled him to follow his heart like never before? It was when Uncle Boris gave him a life lesson.

That was a significant moment in Sammy’s life. The words that fall from Uncle Boris’ mouth were that of Merlin. Whatever he uttered became true in the remainder of the film.

“Art will give you crowns and laurels on earth. But, it will tear your heart out and leave you lonely. You’ll be a shanda for your loved ones.”

A kind of life lesson only an old-timer can utter. Judd Hirsch has given a performance of a lifetime. Imagine the weight of a performance that gets an actor nominated for an Oscar who appeared in the film for ONLY NINE MINUTES. That body language and mental strength at the age of 87 are so hard to observe nowadays.


METICULOUS DRAMATIC SCREENPLAY

The biggest plus of the film being so emotionally deep to the director is that the film doesn’t struggle to settle for emotions. In a space of 150 minutes, the story of Fabelmans grows with a meticulous screenplay. The first dinner talk, the siblings’ experimental plays, and the tornado scene that develops Mitzi’s mental showdown that had created doubts for the audience before.

Mitzi’s nightgown dance on the camping trip was so meaningful and highlighted the behavioral attitudes of different characters that actually grew throughout the film. Even before the daughter ran to her, we all felt awkward.

Sammy discovering the shocking moment in the reel was so hard-hitting. The fluctuation of the mother-son relation was well dramatized. Spielberg dramatized the sudden intensity so perfectly. The mother-son violence sequence was a jaw-dropper.

The anti-Semetic bullying scenes at the school were blood-boiling. How helpless a boy can be? I am surprised that no one took action for that.

And those Sam-Monica moments were every young spectator’s warm sentiments building the hormones and uncontrollable feelings. Richard Linklater! Was that you directing those Sam-Monica scenes? In fact, the entire high school dramatization was so Richard Linklater class!

And this is the beauty of Steven Spielberg’s direction. The continuity of his dramas perfectly grows on the audience. I want to especially praise the camera work of Janusz Kaminski who helped in emphasizing the detailing of some critical moments in the film. Like Sammy walking towards his room after his mother hits him. And the zoomed shots of Sammy’s face when his doubts skyrocket. And when Mitzi is exposed to Sam’s discovery in a one-shot assists the actress to display some incredible fall of emotions.


PERFORMANCES

Speaking of actress, Michelle Williams has given a stunning performance that has everything an actress requires to exceed our expectations. And if I am not wrong, she has mostly been like that. Maybe this is not her best performance as she has done that quite often but I opine to believe that she is unlucky if she doesn’t win the Oscar once again.

And I must mention how brilliantly every actor performed. And when I say ‘every’, that includes the young siblings. Just watch both the sisters when the parents announce the bad news. Good to see Seth Rogen in quite a different setup. Gabrielle LaBelle is an exciting find and was a very impressive performance of Sam Fabelman. I am not forgetting Paul Dano at all but there wasn’t that much about his performance.


CLOSING REMARKS

The Fabelmans is a reminder that successful people fail to leave melancholy behind. The film convinces us that struggle and fate are bound together. The wait is pretty long but if you stick with your passion, the opportunity eventually knocks on the door.

The film successfully proves that the parents do make mistakes and that too, critical mistakes. And children mentally suffer. You have to let things go instead of poisoning them for a lifetime.

‘The Fabelmans’ is an accomplishment in filmmaking. I’ll say that this is the best coming-of-age film since Boyhood.

RATING: 8.8/10



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Film Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

STORY

Pádraic and Colm have been lifelong friends until one day Colm decides to sever the ties by considering him ‘dull’ for him. Colm is a folk musician and feels that old age is catching him. Therefore, he now wants to be remembered by people after he dies. So he concentrates on composing music. But Pádraic is unable to buy this sudden contort and repeatedly tries to break the ice which later on has heavy consequences.


INTRODUCTION

The Banshees of Inisherin‘ is an Irish black-comedy film. The film is set on the fictional isle of Inisherin located off the west coast of Ireland where the Irish Civil War is at the closing point in 1923. The film is shot on the attractive isles of Inishmore (Inis Mór) and Achill Island.


REVIEW

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is an emotional drama that is not skeptical about reflecting on the dynamics of companionship. It is a well-thought signature of substance that roots in the mediocrity of dysfunctional distrait in a relationship.


Let me forward you why the film is so noisy about a silent assassination of a friendship.

INCIDENT RATHER THAN A STORY

The films usually dramatize a story where the characters have to grow with time, meet their peak point and proceed toward a conclusion. But this film dramatizes an incident of a life that occurs in a small community between the two whose friendship was known to everyone there. The whole screen time is invested in the troubling impact of a sudden breakup. The film wishes to broaden the aftermath of severity.


DEPTH OF AGONY

There are always human errors on both ends that builds ice between a long-lasting friendship. Some move on and others don’t. Colm is calm about what he stands for. But Pádraic is broken. The significance lies in the attempts and every time Pádraic meets disappointments.

The writing could have been easily ridiculed in dramatizing this segment of endeavor but the annoyance is well handled by bringing arguments, applying realistic humor, and directing Colm’s silly ego leading towards shocking consequences.


ARTISTIC TRAGEDY

You have to be a very genuine storyteller if you are interested to present an emotional tragedy that occurs in friendship but not in some romanticism. The value of pain is subtle because angst of Colm is unexplainable. He warns Pádraic that he will cut his fingers if he bothers him.

This madness for me is artistic because this kind of warning is a heavy reference to Vincent van Gogh, a famous Dutch painter who mutilated his left ear to seek his painter friend Paul Gauguin‘s attention. Being aware of his state of being a folk musician and how worthy his fingers are to play his violin, he still is unmoved about his foolishness to display.


TOGETHERNESS

The British presentation of lives in the countryside has always been sublime and rich. ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is another good example of working on aesthetics that gives you a natural feeling of togetherness. The British tone for the village and small talk settles so easily.

The characters circulating in this small part do not require an introduction at all. It grows on the audience naturally. The local Garda, a publican, a physically abused kid, a postmistress, and the old lady, all fit and settle in the film so easily.


WHAT IS ‘THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN’?

The title of the film is quite a collection of unused words and thus, sounds interesting. Inisherin is a fictional isle that is set on multiple islands. The word ‘Banshee‘ comes from Gaelic folklore it is a female spirit whose wailing is considered a dark sign for a family that one of them will die soon. The physical appearance of Mrs. McCormick perfectly qualifies as one of the ‘Banshee’ of Inisherin.


CLOSING REMARKS

The film carries technical brilliance in cinematography and direction. The film is strongly led by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as Pádraic and Colm. Their screen presence in their arguments is visibly astounding.

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is not a story but a moment of our life and this is why it is so heartwarming and emotional from the human point of view. If there is a tangible form of self-destruction, it exists in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’.

RATINGS: 8.6/10



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Film Review: Jogi (2022)

While Delhi builts scattered turbulence across the city, Jogi and his friends tries to liberate many Sikhs after Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated.

Jogi is a survival-thriller period film based on the horrible three days after the assassination, a tragic event that is now called “1984 anti-Sikh riots“. A film based on a highly sensitive topic and haunting political unrest, the dramatization of riots does have that gripping intensity but what avoids the film to be considered amongst the best period films of recent times is the lack of quality screenwriting.

The aesthetics are too Bollywood-scopic. Dubious writing, overhauled musical score, predictable continuity, and an extremely weak setting for the conclusion. Lali is obsessed with hating Jogi to kill him but not makes his chances when he had. Looks silly to gaze at him near his sister’s dead boy but not shoot him considering to be responsible for her death. With long hair and a beard, how was Jogi not suspected of his being a Sikh at the station and the warehouse, is quite surprising. Especially, when he requested a bottle of milk, how come no one raised eyebrows? Why would anyone ask for milk in a warehouse of weapons and kerosene oil?

The most awful writing of the film; is an MLA personally arriving to kill Jogi and the rest. Why would he drop his hands in the dirt? Why would he risk his position? Anyone in their right state of mind will order someone to get his hands dirty for them.

Diljit Dosanjh as Jogi gives a fabulous performance and carries not only the Sikhs but also the film on his shoulder. Why was Ali Abbas Zafar chosen as the director for this film? How can you expect a quality outcome from someone who directs Salman Khan films? If I was the producer of Jogi, I would have chosen Konkona Sen Sharma, Hansal Mehta, or Devashish Makhija. Jogi lacks that narrative crafting that compels and boils the blood to watch the riots.

RATING: 4/10



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Film Review: All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)

STORY

Young Paul Bäumer and his school friends join the Imperial German Army. They get excited when the uniforms are handed over to them and begin to romanticize their gallantry on the battlefield. Not a single clue do they have what they are about to watch as they are moved to the Western Front to fight trench warfare against the French.


BOOK

In 1928, the German novelist Erich Maria Remarque published “Im Westen nichts Neues” based on his experience when he joined the army to fight the great war. The book achieved widespread critical acclaim and sold 2.5 million copies in the first 18 months.

Two years later, the book was adapted into an American film “All Quiet on the Western Front”. The film won both the Best Picture and Best Director awards at the Oscar, the first to do so. Also, the first to win Best Picture that was based on a novel.

Unsurprisingly, the author was declared ‘unpatriotic’ by the government in the following years, and his books were banned, removed from the libraries, and burned. There had never been a film produced in any part of the world that adapted this novel until none other than a German film production decided to adapt it.


REVIEW

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is based on the final events of the first World War dramatizing blood-boiling painstaking action sequences that reflect the mental and physical trauma the German soldiers faced and suffered.


ANTI-WAR

The most successful point about the film is that it is a period film that magnificently establishes and serves its purpose to be an anti-war film. Usually, films based on war try to glamorize the heroics of one and satanize the other. Some war films focus on basing the film on a depressive note highlighting a tragic story that suffered during the war. But the essence of this film lies in the negative nature of the war. This film successfully proves that war brings no hope but despair.


HUMANISM

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is extremely human with a realistic approach towards the mannerism and wants. For example, a few soldiers witness some French women walking in the fields. It is such a delight for them to watch after such rough times on the field. One of the soldiers couldn’t resist and spent some time with one of them and returned with a woman’s scarf as a souvenir. When the soldier shows the scarf to his friends, each of them smells and feels it. An accurate and very understood affection the human is bound to take pleasure in after fighting on the field.

There are a few such scenes that recognize trying to establish some sense to the most powerful people in the world today. An illiterate soldier asks Paul to read his wife’s letter to him. A soldier collects the lockets of identifications and spots the one who saved him before. The one that was very compelling was when Paul repeatedly stabs a French soldier and distances himself. Seeing him dying remorses him and then he makes an unsuccessful attempt to save him but it is too late. The message was clear in this incredibly shot scene, the war brings no peace but destruction.


GAS

The significance of gas masks has been highlighted in this film. Somewhere in the first 20 minutes, the German troop is immediately alarmed by the gas attack and ordered to wear a gas mask. In the midst of the film, 60 of the missing troops are killed by the gas because they mistakenly took off their masks soon.

The use of this psychological weapon of a chemical attack was the counterattack of the French. Because it was the Germans who introduced this poison gas when they used it in the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium in April 1915. If I am not wrong, this was the first ever poison gas attack in warfare history. How ironic to see the German Army being the victim of what they created!


UNIFORMS

One of the most critical observations about this film is at the beginning of the film. Rational and thoughtful. When the soldiers get killed in the war and buried in their coffins. Their uniforms are washed, pressed, properly starched, sewed, and made to look new and fresh product that gets reused by the new recruits who wore them excitedly.

This matter can be taken lightly or pressed in a positive or a negative matter. Fully depends if you are okay with that or if you find it rubbish. From a positive angle, it is the transfer of honor from one to the other.

From a negative and a more critical perspective, the uniforms were handed over without respecting the martyred because the uniforms could have been delivered to the families. Perhaps the film wants to show that the-then army didn’t want to invest in the new uniforms. Or maybe this is how it is in some parts of the world. I have no knowledge about it but in all honesty, I feel the uniform of the martyred either should be handed over to their family or bury the martyred in that uniform.


ARMISTICE

The film remarkably settled the balance of the noisy battles and the table-talk silence. The latter part is the people in power trying to outdo each other. I found out on the internet that the scene of the armistice is not in the novel. But I am okay with it because including the events of the armistice was extremely important as the film intended to show how the first World War actually concluded.

It is highly accurate that the armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied Governments at 5am and would take effect at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. And the battle was intentionally fought until 11 am.

But I am not sure about the real reason behind the six-hour delay. Why the war has to end at 11am? Why not at 5am when the armistice is signed? There were nearly 11,000 casualties on the final day of the war. 3000 of those lost their lives in those six hours. A very costly delay but the film took the responsibility to dramatize the fight of those six hours that you may rather call brave and courageous or foolish and madness.


CLOSING REMARKS

I didn’t base my film review to develop a discussion about history but to inform the readers that ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ is one of the most human films based on a great war and reflected on its consequences. An anti-war film that does not allow to glamorize heroism but rather dramatizes it as the need of the hour.

The ugly sense of blindness about the harsh realities of war are well dramatized. The displaying of horrifying war action sequences in compelling cinematography is breathtaking. This film would have looked more realistic if directed in monochrome.

One of the biggest achievements of the film is that despite the fact that it is a German film based on the Imperial German Army, the audience will not distinguish it but consider it as a loss to humanity showing no concern about what side you are on.

The film is a dead man’s poetry that flew away and sunk into the mud. It is one of the most honest representations of the tragic human phase of the fighting soldiers who died in the most brutal fashion with a picture of his wife and kids in their pockets.

RATING: 9.3/10



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Film Review: HIT: The First Case (2022)

STORY

Inspector Vikram Jaysingh is one of the most intelligent and stern officers of HIT (Homicide Intervention Team). But he suffers from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) due to a tragic past that haunts him particularly when he sees fire. He doesn’t take pills because he thinks that the pills will weaken his performance. Vikram gets more frustrated when his girlfriend and colleague Neha go missing. This leads to Vikram taking one more case when another girl gets missing the same way as Neha.


REVIEW

HIT: The First Case is the Telugu remake of Sailesh Kolanu‘s film with the same title that he made in 2020. And it is Kolanu who has written and directed this too. The one thing that you have to make sure of is that a suspense-thriller must never fall short of intensity and attract the audience with groovy developments. HIT has these qualities.

The screenplay of HIT runs pretty fast. It is a commitment to not wasting time in principle shots of sequence developments. I sense the editors had a tough time setting the tone of the film with scene arrangements. But due to sharp cuts in editing, the dialogues in the film didn’t do justice and looked pretty disjointed.

There were some moments that didn’t look right at all. Why did the senior officer give Neha’s case to Akshay when he clearly knew that Akshay and Vikram hold strong grudges and hate each other? He could have handed the case to anyone. When the dead body is exhumed, Vikram begins to suffer PTSD and when he returns, the forensic team is taking the dead body. The forensics do not complete the proceedings that quickly.

How come an officer suffering from PTSD is handling not one but two cases? I have no knowledge of how mentally a cop has to be fit to handle the case despite PTSD.

Rajkummar Rao was fabulous in playing a cop of such a complicated mental character but there was something wrong with his tone. It was very monotonous. Sanya Malhotra didn’t have much to roll on the screentime as she disappeared for a long.


CLOSING REMARKS

HIT: The First Case is an exciting start with the conclusion of the first case in a very interesting suspense. It was unlikely to make a wild guess who would it be. And now the film is heading towards the second case. The Telugu sequel has been released last month. The genre of the film served its purpose and that is what is important. Surely recommended to all of you who are fond of watching suspense thrillers.

RATING: 7/10



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Film Review: Qala (2022)

STORY

After an emotionally struggling phase of her younghood and being under the shadow of her mother Urmila Manjushree a celebrated thumri singer, Qala Manjushree is now an established singer. But with the rise of fame comes unprecedented pressure from the media and Qala tries to cope which begins to deteriorate her health.


REVIEW

Qala is a period film set in Calcutta in the pre-independence era of the 1930s or maybe 1940s. And when it comes to period films of the golden age, the bygone era, there are two departments that become more responsible for enhancing all the technicalities and the aesthetics of filmmaking. That is the designing of costumes and the production.

It is hard for me to describe in the most perfect sense but both aspects of Qala are electrifying and give rich vibes of the earliest decades of Indian filmmaking artistry. A meticulous effort to present the old age that disconnects you from the present era. Gives you the same vibe as if you are in the music video of Khamaj and Shyam Benegal‘s Bhumika, or Guru Dutt‘s Kaaghaz Ke Phool.


FEMINISM

The angle of feminism clicked in the screenwriting. I liked this arc of Qala questioning the precise questions and receiving no genuine response. In a universally male-dominated industry, only a woman can describe how difficult it is to make a place in any department in the film industry and what she has to suffer mentally and physically.

Speaking of physical suffering, there is a scene that perhaps never happened before and may have triggered us to question ourselves. After Qala fails to sing the right notes, the music director takes her out and forces her to give oral sex. Minutes later, Qala returns and sings correctly.

It may look like an awful sequence but highlights countless behind-the-door horrors inflicted on women. At the same time, the question that triggered me was how did she sing so well minutes after swallowing semen? Does the vocal chord of the singer not affect or harm after that? I actually had to research on the internet and found out that it doesn’t unless there is a transmissible disease.


LANGUAGE AND PERFORMANCES

The Urdu language was the treasure of classic Bollywood. But here, there is a visible error in language proficiency when actors speak dialogues. I will limit my criticism by implying that the film is set in Calcutta but not Bombay. So perhaps this is how Bengalis spoke Urdu in those times.

The performances are not up to the bar where the period film can be judged with more splendidness. Perhaps it was challenging to perform in a different setting than the norm for the actors. You need actors who can fit in the language and justify the aesthetics otherwise they will end up like Suniel Shetty in Umrao Jaan. Happy to see the debut of Irrfan Khan‘s son Babil Khan. Amit Sial and Swastika Mukherjee were average.

Tripti Dimri as Qala, I don’t know why she reminded me of Sonam Kapoor in her earlier films. There was so much grace and beauty in Qala but her mental performance was bleak. She visibly struggled to collapse her settled persona.


MUSIC

Qala’s music is the signature and authentic reminder of the good old times of the melody. Amit Trivedi knows what to offer in a different setting and he is familiar with this. His music was fabulous for Bombay Velvet and not to forget Lootera‘s number ‘Sawaar Loon‘. This time it is more distinctive and time traveling to listen to the notes, the lyrics, and vocabulary. The music sets the mood and drops you to feel more about those times.

I want to specially mention this singer, Sireesha Bhagavatula; I don’t remember if I listened to her before. But here, her songs particularly the best track of the film ‘Ghodey Pe Sawaar‘ reminded me so much of Geeta Dutt‘s voice and her melodious songs of the 1950s. Qala’s music definitely is one of the best music albums of the year.


DIRECTOR

Anvita Dutt has usually been a lyricist all these years. But her ass on the director’s chair has opened the gates for period films in better crafting and finesse. She is really fond of the classical era. Her directional debut was Bulbbul which was beautifully set in the Bengal presidency of the 1880s.


CLOSING REMARKS

Qala compels the audience to fascinate with striking visuals and lush cinematography. 

Qala is the tale of the struggle for acceptance but jeopardizing it with jealousy. A girl who lost her male twin at birth, failed to convince her mother about successfully passing the legacy in the house of music, and later on being rejected by her. The events occurring in the second age of the film industry.

Qala is a reminder of unwanted rivalry when a professional begins to believe there is a competitor who will replace you and the general audience will accept your competitor and forget you that will distraught you. I wonder what reminds me of this? Yes. Black Swan.

RATING: 7.7/10



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Film Review: Monica, O My Darling (2022)

STORY

Johnny is promoted to the board of directors on the occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary. But the event turns out to be a curse as a series of murders of the company’s employees begins to shake the company and Johnny’s position is jeopardized.


REVIEW

Monica, O My Darling is based on the Japanese novel ‘Burutasu No Shinzou‘ by Keigo Higashino. A comedy thriller with the elements of neo-noir and a musical tribute to 1970s Bollywood.

The first hour is too itchy to the comical aesthetics as the development of the story doesn’t really settle that much. I felt the film tried to be way too funny. The direction wasn’t compelling to tone the real feel of the sudden crime scenes that should have depressed the whole foundation of the company. Maybe dark humor would have suited the script.


EASTER EGGS

I really took a shine to observe some classic references. When Monica waits on the street, the motel behind her is named ‘Bates Motel‘. Hitchcock fans know where this comes from. When Johnny’s sister calls to him, the board behind her mentions the names of many famous filmmakers. Johnny’s fiancee Nikki talks about her cousin and clearly says the words ‘My Cousin Vinny‘ which is a famous film starring Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci.

Director Vasan Bala thanked Sriram Raghavan at the beginning of the film. And if you notice, there are moments of Raghavan references too. Rajkummar’s character is Johnny and Johnny Gaddaar is one of his most memorable films. When Johnny faces the cobra, Johnny Gaddar is played on television. The name of the bank from where ACP Naidu comes out is called ‘Bank of Badlapur‘. A Bollywood film giving interesting easter eggs deserves compliments.


MUSIC

Although the musical score went stereotypical in giving tribute to the 1970s and have listened to that score countless times. But I must praise the song compositions that were tuned to that era and didn’t look fake. And the selection of singers who mimicked the old timers so accurately. For a moment, I actually thought if Asha Bhosle was singing Bye Bye Adios. My favorite track was ‘Farsh Pe Khade’ because that track reminded me of Hemant Kumar‘s voice and Shankar Jaikishan‘s music. And Hemant Kumar is my favorite Bollywood singer so that touched me.

Although, the musical score and songs were all tribute to that era and excellently done by Achint Thakkar. But I gave a thought if composing generational songs is so likely to happen with quite an authenticity, why cannot the musicians tune in and make such music more often?


CLOSING REMARKS

I felt a murder mystery with dark humor could have been more compelling than what I watched in Monica, O My Darling. Someone like Sriram Raghavan, Abhinay Deo, or Abhishek Chaubey would have executed this story superbly.

A talented casting of Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, and Radhika Apte was all fair in their roles. Monica, O My Darling is a fiction that serves its purpose of presenting a comedy thriller in a different way.

RATING: 6/10



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TV Review: That ’90s Show

STORY

16 years after the events that wrapped in ‘That ’70s Show‘, the house of the Formans in the fictional town of Point Place in Wisconsin becomes lively in the summer of 1995 when Leia Forman arrives to spend time with her grandparents and joins a group of teenagers.


REVIEW

That ’90s Show” is a spin-off of “That ’70s Show” with Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp as the cantankerous Red and super-cheerful Kitty Forman returning as one of television history’s most beloved parents ever.

The aesthetics are the same and the fans of That ’70s Show will be excited to get into the skin of the spin-off so easily. The nostalgia is there and is still vibrant.

Red Forman has gone a little soft by some tiny little percent and is understood as the character goes older. If anyone notices, he begins to hold a stick in the second half of the season.

But Kitty hasn’t aged. Debra Jo Rupp has not aged at all. She is still someone where heart melts for the elders. The Formans are still a joy to watch. I wish Betty White would have returned as Kitty’s mother. She passed away a few months after the announcement of this show.


OLD BATCH

The old batch of young rebels that starred Topher Grace as Eric, Ashton Kutcher as Michael, Mila Kunis as Jackie, Laura Prepon as Donna, Danny Masterson as Steven, and Wilmer Valderamma as Fez, shows up as cameos which was quite understood as they do not have much favor to do in the script.

Maybe it is surprising that the reunion of the group didn’t happen. Perhaps, it is better to keep it for the future when the audience settles well into the second season of the show. Who knows? Maybe Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde makes a cameo in the future and we manage to see a complete reunion only if he gets cleared as Danny is hit with heavy sexual assault allegations that have finished his career to date.

But the rest of the old friends were fun to watch especially Eric Forman. The father-son chemistry just never fades at all.


NEW BATCH

Coming to the new batch of teenage friends. At first, I wasn’t confident about how far will they take the show to convince the audience in a new phase of fashion, music, and humor. Plus, the show is run by Netflix, which began to indicate whether the political messages will ruin the show.

See, the Netflix element is present and it is very obvious that the new batch will never be able to stand as the new favorites as those in the ’70s were. I felt that the makers remade the nostalgia in the new band. The theme, the personifications, and the references were all there. I am okay with it but settling for the new band to act the very way as the older ones lack originality.

Nate and Nikki are the new Michael and Jackie. Ozzie is the new Steven. Jay is the new Fez and I must praise the selection for Jay as Michael and Jackie’s son was so accurate. I thought if the actor is actually the son of Ashton and Mila. And this Kelso is smarter than his father.

And speaking of the Kelsos, Michael and Jackie are remarried. If I am not wrong, Jackie was with Fez in the series finale. I have forgotten if Jackie went back to Michael in the finale or what? Maybe we get to see Jackie and Fez in the future.

Ozzie represents the Queer community and is gay. And I think it was a good idea to address the complicated silence of that group of teenagers in the ’90s living in the US who were overthinking to coming out. And it was never easy for the kids to show their parents and friends who they were. It still is not easy for sure but Ozzie’s character went in the right direction.

Isn’t it that funny Eric and Donna named their daughter Leia? Knowing the fact that Eric is a lifetime lover of Star Wars, naming her Leia looked so naturally funny. They must have added a character of Leia’s brother and named him Luke. Leia is the new Eric, awkward and nerd.


CLOSING REMARKS

If the use of humor in this group looks to fall apart, remember this is a teenage comedy and we are older now. We certainly cannot expect them to build the same ambiance as the oldies did.

It is plain stupid if the audience compares it with the original. But one thing is for sure, in order to run the follow-up in the right direction, the show does not disappoint at all. It is not at all trash. Even if you do not like it, at least you will agree this is a lot better than the last season. “That ’90s Show” is funny and enjoyable and will make the audience wait for the second season.



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Film Review: Goodbye (2022)

Tara has just won her first case as a lawyer and parties with her boyfriend. The next morning, she learns that her mother Gayatri has passed away.

Goodbye is about the Bhallas from Chandigarh where Gayatri was the heart of the house. Tara had a rigid relationship with her father Harish. Gayatri has also left three sons behind. Karan is the eldest arriving from Los Angeles with his wife. Nakul is a climber and has no knowledge about his mother’s demise because he is climbing. And Angad was adopted and is arriving from Dubai.

Goodbye is a different storytelling where the major character has already passed away and the film focuses on the funeral proceedings and the assembling of a dysfunctional family. There have been several films that picturized how the death of a major character unites a family.

After an ordinary start with a party song, the film lived up to its screen business in the first hour centered around struggling to complete Gayatri’s cremation. In this first half, the social satire was excellent. The exaggeration of believing in superstitions and old beliefs, and the attendees creaming their concerns and being too materialistic shaded some ugliness of the norms.

The second half had its moments, mostly sentimental, but it visibly struggled to maintain the tone of excellence that was set in the first half. There was nothing much to talk about, and most of the developments in this half were flat and poorly written. I mean that impact in writing was missing. Just for example, when Nakul returns and still has no idea what has happened. A strange vibe naturally builds that demands a capricious look with meticulous writing of emotions in such an awakening. The whole scene of revelation gives zero impact and the actor who plays Nakul does no justice to surpass that emotional collapse.

The performances were flat. Rashmika Mandanna in her Hindi debut playing the central character of Tara clearly looked struggling. The actors who played the three sons did no favor. Neena Gupta as Gayatri couldn’t give much to our delight due to extremely limited screentime. Poor Amitabh Bachchan as the patriarch has to carry the film on his old shoulders.

Over usage of the musical score also messed up the development. Played way too many songs that could have been easily ignored. Due to a limited development with no arcs in the story, the screen time of 140 minutes made it a slow cut with a depressive tone. The film stretched too long to cry for the deceased, for the beloved.

RATING: 5/10



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Film Review: Nazar Andaaz (2022)

Sudhir is blind since he was a child. He is a singer and his housekeeper Bhavani serves him for a few years. One day, he befriends Ali, a thief who broke into his house the previous night; and willingly allows him to live with him under one condition that he won’t commit theft again.

Nazar Andaaz is a dramedy that wants us to go deep into the eyes of the blind and feel his life. As much as I want to understand Sudhir, the trouble is the annoying chemistry between Bhavani and Ali who are on each other’s nerves to earn trust of Sudhir. The film wasted plenty of time on their lame humor and reduced the deserving minutes of Sudhir that could have filled more detailing about his work and the past.

The writing of the film did allow the audience to melt at some sequences where Sudhir meets an old flame and then visits his childhood home. The film’s only element that is praiseworthy is Kumud Mishra as Sudhir. This was one incredible performance of a blind person. I have never watched any role of a blind giving the most accurate facial detailing as Kumud did in the film. This was a meticulous physical effort by Kumud. I feel sorry for him that such a performance goes wasted in a film that deserved better quality writing.

Divya Dutta and Abhishek Banerjee are badly wasted. Nazar Andaaz is nazar andaaz-ed by its aesthetics. Watch the film only for one of the best performances of the year by Kumud Mishra.

RATING: 4/10



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