Archive for the ‘Film Reviews’ Category

Aamir Khan‘s Dangal has collected over ₹1,500 crore and is becoming the highest-grossing Indian film but when I watched the film after a six-months wait, I found the film wasn’t worth even ₹1.50 crore. 
Dangal is about a man, once a national wrestling champion, who gives up his career due to the shortage of money but sees his dream of winning Gold medal coming true in his daughters, Geeta (played by Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (played by Sanya Malhotra). Being based on Indian wrestling family of Phogat, Dangal is a huge insult in the name of the real-life facts accuracy. In short, it is heavily fictionalized with more than 80% of the story dramatized. I have collected a few points which I found from various media sources.
 
1) According to the authorized biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat, Akhada, it was his wife Daya, who was disappointed that the first child wasn’t a boy.
 
2) The coach is depicted as villainous who is dummy enough to give wrong techniques every time he trains Geeta; whereas the real coach has claimed that only mechanism was changed, not the techniques.
 
3) Geeta losing first-round tournaments globally is completely wrong. The film shows her winning her first Gold medal in international competition in the Commonwealth game whereas she did win a gold medal a year before in Jalandhar.
 
4) Geeta didn’t cut her hair before the Commonwealth games. The video of the final game shows Geeta with long hair.
 
5) Aamir getting locked before the final fight is very incorrect. As per the biography mentioned above, Mahavir did watch the final.
 
6) The final game wasn’t that competitive; in fact, it was a one-sided two-round victory by Geeta with the score 3-0, 8-0.
 
Even besides the factual accuracies, the director Nitesh Tiwari, who is heavily praised and accoladed for his direction, has made the silliest of mistakes as few examples below:
 
1) The referee changes between the scenes in young Mahavir’s early fight. Can you believe it?
 
2) When Mahavir moves Patiala for six months, he is financially low but minutes later he owns a scooter and even books a whole theater to watch the DVD of his daughter’s fight? *claps*
 
3) Mahavir gets locked and not a single security guy bothers to watch the series of unfortunate events happening in such an international competition?
 
Performances? Yes, performances were the first rate but let me talk about Aamir Khan. He finally won a Filmfare Award in 16 years but the question is, what was so challenging about this role? Body transformation does count when the acting is judged but you will watch Aamir’s fatty character in the whole film as the young muscular phase of his role hardly is on the screen for 15 minutes.
 
If I judge his performance as a standout from two different criteria, which is 1) best performances of the year 2016, and 2) Amir’s best performances in the last 15 years, this role is still nowhere. So Filmfare yet again made a blunder in awarding it to a wrong individual.
 
Film’s technical aspects are not convincing at all. A running time of 160 minutes does not justify at all due to lengthy fight sequences and unnecessary songs.
 
Dangal is a one-timer and can be watched on a repeat mode for the sake of entertainment.
Ratings: 4/10
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Manchester By The Sea is a mosaic, a poetry, a philosophy of emotions blended with a series of tragic and distress events. To be very honest, the story is ordinary but the screenplay is a luminary. A janitor in Quincy, Casey Affleck, has passed some tragic moments and while he is still struggling, fate calls for another mournful news from Manchester-by-the-Sea of the passing of his brother, Kyle Chandler. With the passing, the lawyer reads the will and informs Casey that the deceased has made him the guardian of his nephew Lucas Hedges which came as a surprise.

At a slow but decent pace, the director Kenneth Lonergan is the author and a humble storyteller who mumbles the human behaviors involved in a single blink. He is smart enough to bring the humor out when the timing of a minor incident bestows. He is a traveler of groaning age who shows how that aging man shelters the false hopes of parenting in someone’s place. He presents the core character in a way that is pale to relationships but strives to necessitate what has been broken and burnt from the fire. The director simply brings the magic and music from the silence of shriek audible enough to understand the destruction of his heart. Us viewers have to observe the happenings in the film and feel sorry for him.

Like Fences, which speaks about the humans who are ready to lose or break someone, the outcome of this film is easily the gem of a drama. There are two dramatic sequences which burn and melts you. One, when Casey describes the haunting past to the police officers and later unsuccessfully attempts suicide on the spot. And two, when Casey meets his ex-wife Michelle Williams years after the divorce on the street.

Another excellency of the screenplay is the ‘Understanding’ between the ages and emotions involved between the two. The uncle-nephew chemistry is marvelous. There are an annoyance and a fury in the communication between them which downpours the sweat of ego or chutzpah, not mentally accepting each other at all.

All the actors involved in the project have performed very well but it is Casey who does the talking and deserves a standing ovation. I haven’t watched Casey’s films enough in the past to adjudge his performance as the best to date but the character he went on to play here is the true salvation and modus operandi. Manchester By The Sea is the aftermath of the death in the family. If life is an art exhibition, then this masterpiece is one of the most speaking pictures with the darkest and honest color of shades which, to the viewers, is widely acceptable.

Ratings: 8.7/10

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Fences was a play written by August Wilson back in 1983 which, years later, won Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2010, Kenny Leon directed the broadway based on the book with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as the leading cast. The book became a source of cinematic adaptation with the very same actors repeating their roles.
 
The film is set in Pittsburgh of the 1950s. It is about a man who wanted to become a baseball player when he was young but couldn’t due to his color. So now he discourages his son to follow the same path.
Fences will be remembered amongst one of the most brilliant films with the most ordinary story. There is simply nothing special or new in the story to watch. What makes this film look great and worth watching is due to almost all the technical aspects besides the story. A gritty drama directed by Denzel Washington and magnificent performances by himself as Troy and Viola Davis as his wife, Rose. I fail to understand why wasn’t Viola nominated in the Oscar for this film in the leading role rather than supporting role. But wherever is she nominated, she is the showstopper.
 
This is my first experience to watch Viola in a well-defined role as her role was pretty short as Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad, plus I have never watched her in How To Get Away With Murder. What is top-notch about her role in the film is her ‘Hurt’ aspect as Troy’s wife. Soon when Denzel reveals some news to her shock, she is different than you have been watching her in the first half of the film. She then drops your jaws and till she has expressed her severe melancholy to her husband, your eyes are about to get wet. She makes you feel what hurts and disappoints her as a loyal wife and a mother. In short, a stupendous accomplishment.

 
Denzel/Viola onscreen chemistry as the old couples is phenomenal. They share few outstanding scenes, an even father-son rigid relation is a stunning sketch which grows your nerves. Besides them, all the actors involved maintains a rich display of supporting characters which make you sit and watch. Like Troy’s brother, Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) is at a corner but a very attention-seeking character who is mentally unfit and often gets in trouble in the neighborhood. Then both the sons of the Troy are entirely different individuals who have a few verbal exchange and disturbed relation with father due to choosing different careers which father Troy never wished. Troy’s friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) has a different command, a loyal friend who understands Troy’s stance towards his wife and kids, and ideology to life. Denzel as the director is supreme in character detailing. The placement of all the characters is perfect.
 
Fences without violence is a brutal violence in silence. Your ears will listen to the whispers, the cries behind a failed state of an honest individual who roared only when his color became an unbegged penny. A sublime sad film.
Ratings: 8/10
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M Cream is indiehippie road trippie of two youngsters who are a traggic signal in a hopeless route leading towards chaos. It is a journey leading towards the clouds of heaven.
 
Figaro is a non-conformist and a rebel without a cause who tries to fix the puzzles of his existence after his conservative parents have begun shaping his future. Jay is a voice of revolution and anti-establishment student. Along with them, two more friends join the road trip in pursuit of a mythical drug called M Cream to Himachal Pradesh.
 
The trip is not just a trip but an opportunity for the travellers to dig the philosophical roots of life who questions the caricature of individuality, zodiacs of hope, gashes of rebellion, and cursing religions on the chessboard. Somehow Figs (Figaro) and Jay match their identities and together figures out why peace cannot overtake the corrupted powers when their strive towards a cause goes all in vain in the upheaval.
 
The major aspect of this particular travel film is that the director enchants the Figs-Jay chemistry with the smart blending of literary affection and emotional gravitation. The catchy parts of the film are the conversations between any of the two. In terse, marvellous dialogues! The excessive use of high-quality Urdu and English vocabulary multiplying with joint smoking makes sense.
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M Cream is a convincing hippie film which encourages the generation of the millennials by ignoring the chaos in the surrounding and breath the alfresco to enjoy freedom. The director emphasises on the use of drugs and alcohol, and play a fair game of love and sex.
 
Many scenes are exceptional and turn your brain into building a theory. There is a scene where Figs being religiously discouraged argues with a man who is strict to principles of faith. Both have strong points and the liberal viewers are the best judges. In some other scene, Figs-Jay meets a French journalist-come-activist who fights for the villagers whose land will be seized to build a resort in the name of development. Her struggle for the cause is what leads to pave way for the peace seekers.
 
In technicality, M Cream is superior. Film editing, screenplay and cinematography are brilliant. Imaad Shah as Figaro is very impressive and Ira Dubey as Jay is average. Yes, the film is a little slow in pace to the script but maintains a decent storytelling. Music score by Studio Fuzz is ear soothing.
 
M Cream is a wonderful project. In last, what I can say is that sometimes being a rebel is so romantic.
 
Ratings: 8.2/10
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Doctor Strange is just another comedy film from the showcase of Marvel Cinematic Universe, produced with the purpose of expanding the universe by bringing its viewers to the circus for mere entertainment. The production studio makes sure that the definition of entertainment from the vocabulary of a Disney-led universe should be:
a) Just another superhero trying to be funny/silly and performing slapsticks for the sake of applauses from the critics and viewers
b) and the filmmaker’s uncontrollable masturbation over the silver-age pages of the Lee/Ditko comics.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE FILM?

Erm, ‘almost’ everything. Disagreeing with comics accuracy is the biggest sin.
 
1) Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange looks the best screen test ever but in camera reel, the actor is not well defined with the character detail. First thing first, BC’s building American accent doesn’t fit with the character. He would rather have spoken in the usual way he does. Secondly, the stiffness of the pain-and-gain is beyond average from the turn of the frame from ego to hero. The third is the nature bound character which urges him to act like a monkey fed with peanuts, some silly slapsticks and lame humour adding nothing to the story but for your haha’s’ in the circus show.
 
2) Tilda Swinton, alright you are one of the best British actors in the cinema, but the makers completely lost their mind in selecting her for the role of Ancient One. First of all, AO is a very elder male character and second, he is of an Asian origin from the fictional Himalayan land of Kamar-Taj (based on Tibet). I believe in diversity but why on earth you want to change the fundamentals? This is not the first time MCU has banged a character.
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3) Wong played by Wong is more than a librarian. In comics, he was Strange’s loyal servant, but in the film, he is his teacher. 
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4) Baron Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is a ridiculous portrayal in the film. Mordo helps Strange in fighting against Kaecilius whereas, in comics, Mordo to Strange is what Luthor to Superman. Mordo is counted among Strange’s greatest villains and here in one scene, he helps the doctor inform the wifi password.
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5) The main antagonist is Kaecilius in the film played by Mads Mikkelsen. The irony is that he was a henchman to Mordo in the comics who used to deliver messages and hence proved that MCU is still weak in bringing the best of villains in the films (besides Loki). In comics, he isn’t a major name in the list of Strange’s strangest villains but…
 
6) The Cloak to Strange in the comics is the Genie to Aladdin. The cloak acts what the master wishes but in the film, the cloak is seen responding to the others. Why? Just for *thinking* entertainment?
 
7) Dr Christine Palmer, played by Rachel McAdams, to my knowledge wasn’t a love interest to Strange in comics. Forget love interest, she wasn’t even a doctor but a nurse. This character is very similar to Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson in the Netflix shows based on the Defenders).
 
8) The fate of the AO is completely different from the comics.
 
9) The film lacks a critical grip of focusing on his training. As Strange focuses on slapsticks in the basic training, AO polishes him in mere 18 months as compared to 14 years in the comics.

IS THERE ANYTHING TO PRAISE IN THE FILM?

Yes, the only plus, in fact, the biggest plus of the whole film is the visual effects. There is no limit in mastering a remarkable creativity and has a very good inspiration from Nolan‘s Inception. Both the mid-credit and post-credit scenes are potential messages to what MCU are up to in the future.

 
Doctor Strange overall is just another circus show with popcorns and peanuts in your hands.
 
Ratings: 4.5/10
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Sarbjit is prominent for few reasons. One is that it presents you a very tragic story between the bitter threads of the two countries. Second is making Aishwarya Rai an actress and third is gifting us a treat to watch Randeep Hooda‘s another, in fact, his most unforgettable performance.

I am not interested in knowing the film’s fate on the box office but I have always been of the opinion that the making of great films based on true stories heavily rely on the direction. Sarbjit despite all the weapons and armour on the ground is where it falls from the peak to the truffles.

Director Omung Kumar is the man more familiar to the art direction or say, the production designing where he is very good at. In the past, he was involved in the production designing of Bhansali’s Black and Saawariya, Mishra’s Chameli and Ghai’s Yuvvraaj. And that is the same impression in his Sarbjit too but the technical aspects of narration are full of flaws.

First thing first, it is a boring film. By boring I mean the story of Sarabjit deserves a 90-minute screen time, not 130 minutes. When the film reaches the half, you begin thinking what is left in the remaining half. The narration is uselessly stretched in the second half and feels if the director is borrowing some time to connect the dots and reach the conclusion.

Like every other Indian film, the portrayals of the media and Pakistani civilians are hyper-hilarious. Why on earth a Pakistani is sketched with a topi on his head, shalwar-kameez on the body, over-disciplined Urdu like “Aap, Janab” in the dialogues, beards like pubic hairs or the one like General Aladeen, mufflers hanging on shoulders, kohl in eyes? Even filmmakers from the west are more skilful in portraying Pakistanis than the neighbours.

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Urdu texts are laughable. There is a scene when sister Dalbir (Aish) handover the Pakistani newspaper to father darji and the viewers have a chance to view mere 4 seconds of the newspaper. The one with the knowledge or Urdu will find hilarious mistakes and put a question mark on the technicalities of the film.

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Few of the scenes were out of logic like Dalbir being thrown and hit on her head while attempting to speak the minister. Another one is Pakistani policewomen checking Sarabjit’s family before they meet that is way too much. A policewoman takes out the glasses of Dalbir and checks it like what? Another one wipes the lipstick and removes the red dot God knows why?

The delight is the sibling chemistry between Randeep and Aishwarya. Randeep has defined ‘pain’ to a new dimension. He lost 18 kg in 28 days. And Aishwarya has displayed a strong command of emotional and vocal artistry after an acting career of totalled performances.

Sadly Richa Chadda doesn’t have enough dialogues or equal weight of performance on the screen as Aish’s despite being the wife of Sarabjit. The film is a genuine one-timer thanks to the directional disaster but the major plus of the multiple performances will keep you alive.

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Ratings: 5/10

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The Birth Of A Nation is a salvage of the fates of Black American community in the chapters of slavery from the American history. The Birth Of A Nation is the reminder of the bondages, brutalities and the tortures, and the vengeance which falls rebel to them and deaf to the manipulated ears.

This perhaps is the second black slavery film in last few years (the other being Twelve Years A Slave). But my honest opinion is that this not only betters Twelve Years A Slave but in my opinion is ‘perhaps’ the best film of 2016 so far.

The darkest of the subjectivity is the naked eyes of Nat Turner witnessing the cry of freedom in despair whose soul is imprisoned and the least the poor slave can do is drop or hold some tears, the scenes are heart-shattering but remarkable picturising. Another object of protest is the use of the Bible among the whites and the blacks. The understanding of the holy book playing the cruel game of offending the slaves; and the rage and revenge committed through the read has a severe impact.

With all the cruelty in the display, the film missed the tricky part of not showing the rape scene of Nat’s wife. The brutal beating which began a birth of the rebellion in Nat’s heart was much of a demand which secluded the luxury of the torture to be like icing on the cake but missed.

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The violence of the revolt was the arrival of omen on the establishment; as per the records in the history books, the black rebels even went on to kill white women and children but fair enough to limit the graphic violence. If the excellence of filmmaking had enough potential to grow on the viewers, the last attack on Jerusalem gives you the best Oh Boy! moment with a highly impressive camera work. This ultimate face-off is another ingredient of the artistry in the making of this film. Conclusions are painful but the final 15-minutes especially the fate of Nat Turner are jaw-dropping technical finishers.

I would like to pass my huge compliments to Nate Parker for this very important project for which he wrote the screenplay and directed to the utmost effort. Also did he finance the film and played the titular role of Nat Turner. All the performances were appealing; camera work and film editing were far superior.

Keeping the controversy that bombed their box office result aside, The Birth Of A Nation is a spectacular film enriched with the most dynamic presentation of pain and loss dreaming towards the freedom in agony. It is a cinematic brilliance.

Rating: 9.2/10

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