Tag Archives: Film Review

Film Review: Darlings (2022)

Badrunnisa (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza Shaikh (Vijay Varma) are young lovers. On one of their dates, Hamza surprises her that he is getting the job and will marry her soon. After three years of marriage, Hamza is addicted to drinking which makes him a wife-beater.

Darlings is one of those millions of brown society marital stories where the couples try their best to stretch the bond in the early years of marriage and also believe that once their munna (baby) arrives in this world, he or she will become the blessing and the fights will decrease. And the couples will spend quality time. Alas, the alcohol is strong enough to intoxicate and destroy the marriage.

I am not sure whose idea was it but I opine that Darlings has missed their chance to address a highly sensitive social, domestic, and marital concern – domestic abuse. Instead of utilizing the plot and using the best source of Aliya, Vijay, and Shefali, and nailing a staunch reality into a significant family drama, the makers chose to make Darlings a dramedy.

Most of the methods of cinematic appeal for Darlings is senseless and clueless. The continuity of the screenplay raises a lot of hows and whys. Unimpressive direction proves that the debutant director Jasmeet K Reen is a complete novice.


MINUSES

Let me write you a few of my bullet disagreements:

1. UNDEVELOPED PROCEEDINGS

In scene 1, Hamza breaks the news to Badru about his job and marriage, and hugs. In scene 2, three years later, Hamza beats Badru for a bad dinner. I get it, the makers wanted to send a chill in the audience with this shocking development but where is the impact?

The audience missed three years of unwanted marital decline that caused the downfall of the marriage. Hence, the development of the central characters, their chemistry, and the entire fallout of marital respect that fluctuates between love and rage is absent which makes the proceedings flat. For this factor, I understand that television dramas play a vital role but the films can still highlight a few minutes of my objection above and justify the screenplay.

2. DRAMEDY???

A subject so crucial and sensitive is taken too lightly and irresponsibly that compromises realism. After the death of the child, how can there ever possibly be comedy at all? All the sequences with the police and police station were utter nonsense. The art of lying in Indian films is the fakest of all fakes that I have never understood. And Darlings maintains the tradition of the characters lying to the other and the latter buying it.

3. WHERE IS THE DOMESTIC ABUSE???

A film based on domestic abuse doesn’t have enough much intensity to dramatize the marital violence besides that shocking scene where Hamza lets Badru fall resulting in a miscarriage. On a few occasions, when Hamza is about to beat Badru, the scene shifts towards the salon where the salon lady routinely hears the screaming. Why not dramatize violence and make the audience cold? When Hamza breaks Badru’s finger with a high-heel sandal, the scene doesn’t show the hit but we listen to the cracking sound.

4. PLOTHOLES

In almost every couple of scenes, there is a plothole. Darlings is a directional disaster where most of the scenes raise questions and make no sense. How come not a single neighbor wakes up or shows up spectating Hamza throwing Badru out of the house late at night? How come the hospital didn’t report to the police the domestic violence that resulted in miscarriage. Section 312 in the Indian Penal Code imprisons such for a minimum of three years, and perhaps with a fine also. Why do the mother and daughter plan to torture Hamza for killing the child instead of making a police case against him as they were intending to do earlier until Badru gave him a chance? Why is Zulfi speaking in sign language and making the mother and daughter guess where Hamza is when the police squad is not with them? Again, how come no one spectates in the society that not one but three people are trying to throw Hamza from the terrace?


PLUSES

If there are pluses, that lies only in the performances. Let me brief you on those:

1. ALIA BHATT

The central casting is Darlings’ positive frame. Alia Bhatt’s performance shuts every possible disagreement that she cannot perform. Those who encourage boycotting films because Alia features are fooling themselves. Her existence and presence in the film are one of the major reasons why at 29, she can run the business of her films on her own despite Bollywood being a typical male-oriented film industry. Her emotional fallouts and dramatizing pain and disappointment are always spot on.

2. SHEFALI SHAH

A versatile actress like Shefali knows what true dedication is portraying an important character. Even in her comic stance, Shefali as Badru’s mother makes you forget for a moment that some of her scenes were funny but her funny performance converted into awkwardness while applying method acting. Out of nowhere, she tells the story of a frog and a scorpion. Asks Hamza to keep hitting his head on the wall. But she goes to another parallel when Hamza hits her or when she confesses.

3. VIJAY VARMA

The biggest responsibility of the antagonist is to create hatred for himself/herself and Vijay as Hamza does that. His physical presence is a piece of genuinely bad news for both mother and daughter. And his mental breakdown gives you a precise idea about a violent husband. It was an excellent performance.


CLOSING REMARKS

Darlings surprisingly has met immense respect from the critics and the audience. They all are entitled to their opinion. I firmly believe that Darlings has missed the chance of portraying realism about domestic abuse with a distinction that held a lot of promises due to its quality casting.

RATINGS = 4/10

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is recalled to Top Gun for a mission where instead of being a fighter pilot, he has to train the Top Gun graduates. While returning to Top Gun, Maverick’s emotional phase meets new parallels, he reunites with his former girlfriend and faces his best buddy Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw‘s son Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw who is infuriated for genuine reasons. More than that, Maverick is still heartbroken by Rooster’s demise.

It is a crazy theory that one of the most iconic, memorable, and beloved films of all-time, Top Gun, can be thought to fetch a sequel after crossing three decades with the same poster boy and results in the legacy of the work meeting new heights. Top Gun: Maverick is unarguably the most ideal sequel one can dream of for their favorite film. This film exceeds all the expectations. It is a groundbreaking success and in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece dramatizing aviation. You watch such incredible flying sequences and your eyeballs dare not to locomote for a microsecond.

Tom Cruise at 60 shows no signs of slowing down. He along with Top Gun graduates who are young pilots learned to fly fighter jets. They all were put through extensive three-month training to avoid air sickness. While shooting the scenes, the cast was sitting in the fighter jets behind the military pilots. And obviously, they didn’t get to sit straight in F/A-18. They had to go through Cessna 172, then Extra EA-300, then L-39, and eventually F/A-18 when the cast had built a strong ‘G tolerance‘. The young cast can exert that physical pressure but someone at 60 has to be a metahuman. Tom Cruise cruises his life towards extraordinary bounds. This is exactly why Tom Cruise is globally respected and recognized as a true superstar.

One of the most distinguished aspects of the old Top Gun film was the rivalry between Maverick and Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky. With the new film moving in a different direction, it was a blessing to see Val Kilmer somehow reprising his role and face Maverick for that one memorable scene. Writing off the Iceman character from the franchise once and for all was the right idea.

Miles Teller as Goose’s son Rooster was the perfect choice who facially reminds us of Anthony Edwards as Goose in the old film. This character was added with the burden of the emotional tragedy that became a complaint towards Maverick especially when the latter wasted a few years of the former’s career. Rooster’s significance to Maverick is so much Donnie Creed to Rocky Balboa.

The writing of this film never disappointed. I liked the pressing about Maverick’s character that despite old age, he wanted to fly and fight. Because this is what he meant to do. He is not a teacher but a naval aviator, a fighter pilot. His repeated insubordination didn’t let him grow further. Or maybe he chose to refuse to obey orders so that he could remain at his post for the love of flying.

The most impressive part of the writing that was followed from the old film is the introduction of the old flame, Penny played by Jennifer Connelly. This character was mentioned twice in the old film but was never shown who she was. Thirty-six years later, we all actually happen to watch this girl coming back into Maverick’s life, and is so exciting. Not sure why Kelly McGillis was not brought back. Could have been equally exciting to see her again meeting Maverick at some point in the film.

With the passing of thirty-six years between the two films, I also liked the recognition of moving ahead from manned aircraft to remote-controlled drones as noticed in the first scene. In order to avoid the shutting of Mav’s scramjet program, he flies the prototype to Mach 10 after which Rear Admiral Hammer Cain warns Maverick that the era of crewed fighter aircraft will soon end.

There was one thing I felt missing in the flying sequences in the old film – a birdstrike. This happened here and I am glad the makers showed the consequences of such tragic incidents. There were many breathtaking flying sequences but the one that screamed my soul was when the team struggles to escape from the SAMs after destroying the Uranium enrichment plant.

I was not convinced by a few factors in the screenplay. For example, the new rivalry between Rooster and Hangman was not detailed as Ice and Mav and therefore looked forced to remind us of the old rivalry. The character of Rooster is not much significance to the film as it should be for a strong supporting role. Mav takes command of the story in its entirety that Rooster looks like filling the minutes. The writing of Rooster lacked the strength to build its own importance in front of Maverick. The way Mav and Rooster stole F-14 from the destroyed air base looked like the writer was running out of ideas. It looked flat to me.

Top Gun: Maverick, in addition to the points I praised above, is the winner in the sound department as well as cinematography and direction. The writing of the film showed that the writers were faithful to the Top Gun legacy and therefore, gifted a respectable and very dedicated sequel to the audience.

RATINGS = 8.6/10

Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

A God killer is on the run killing Gods all over the universe which alerts Thor. And during the course of fighting against all odds, Thor reunites with doctor Jane Foster who, to his surprise, has the powers to wield Mjolnir and has become the Mighty Thor.

The plot had the potential to enrich the Thor franchise but unfortunately, once again, a Thor film is obsessed with forced humor destroying any chance to address the haunting excalibur that is spreading great suffering. All four Thor films were alarmed with incredible threats but made the joke out of everything that resulted in the supremely outrageous outcome.

It was annoying to observe how Thor and his team were being funny despite the children of Asgardians being kidnapped. The entire Zeus sequence was terrible. What was Russell Crowe doing? He could have such a command on a dynamic role but Zeus turned into some funny fat old fart. Absolute mockery. The appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy was unnecessary.

At a budget of $250 million, the film definitely deserves praise for its striking visual effects and sound. But one factor that struggles to keep this film above the knees is Christian Bale‘s Gorr who was undoubtedly the best thing that happened to Thor: Love and Thunder. Every shot that had Bale was worth watching. It was as if Bale had strictly demanded the director Taika Waititi to be sober when he shoot his scenes. And then the whole understanding of Gorr’s fury was well executed. There was particular angst that troubled Gorr for not overcoming the tragic passing of his daughter and blaming the Gods for it.

The best and the most captivating scene of the entire film was the opening scene with Gorr losing his daughter. And to some extent, Gorr’s reunion with his daughter was also dramatized well. And this is where I am lost in Taika Waititi, he has two different dimensions of shooting a scene. He can make the entire sequence pledged with mockery by adding needless jokes. Or, on the contrary, will give an impact on the sensitivity and motion of the subject.

Why Thor got the fourth film is beyond my understanding. And Disney Studios are now going for the fifth. It is a one-timer silly film that is needed to be watched for the sake of being in touch with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to watch Bale’s stupendous performance.

RATINGS: 3.5/10

Film Review: Elvis (2022)

Nothing extraordinary to explain what Elvis is about. It is a bio-drama about the life of the king of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley.

Elvis is the fictional narration of Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis and Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker. Baz Luhrmann returned to the director chair after nine years to direct easily one of the most difficult projects to execute for a film project when it comes to a biopic.

Why do I call the project difficult? Because I opine that such iconic figures from any walk of life who had a lot of events in their lives need broad detailing and that is possible only in a limited series or a television drama divided into seasons. Due to very limited screen time, no film can come up with a story that has too much to tell in one go. And this is the exact reason why Elvis for me fails to impress me as some quality bio-drama.


MINUSES

Let me highlight a few points that disturb the edge.

1. A Road Runner Screenplay

From the start, this film is about competing in a 100m sprint race. Result? No development of any particular chronicle due to lack of breathing. The screenplay suffocates between Elvis’ childhood and fame.

2. Performances, Performances, and Performances

One after the other, Elvis performs and performs. Baz Luhrmann gives less concern to some sensitive contents that needed more intense dramatizing. Elvis’ relationship with his mother alone takes more than half a film as her character was that important. But due to limited time, Baz restricted most of the important things and focused on Elvis-Colonel chemistry. His army life, passion for karate, and two other relations with Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden are fully ignored.

3. Perplexed Aesthetics

Elvis is a confused script where the derivation and enthusiasm of the audience override. First, the film begins with the Colonel being the narrator and clearing the air to the fourth wall of why is he not to be blamed for Elvis’ demise. But in the second half, Colonel is visibly at fault with no audible commentary to reason any further. Second, Elvis is dramatized in a way that he was innocent of Colonel’s deception. So the motive of narration and the principle method of addressing the whole film in a particular way fails again.

4. Historical Inaccuracies

Too much liberty has been taken from the historical account. Neither Colonel met Elvis in the carnival nor convinced him at some mirror maze. The colonel was not even in the show where the female spectators couldn’t hold themselves watching him perform for the first time. The meeting at the Hollywood sign never happened. His famous number ‘That’s All Right’ is not depicted accurately. Elvis deceives the audience by trying to frame the screenplay as the true story of the legend.


PLUSES

Elvis doesn’t entirely suffer from lies and the points I have raised above. There are plusses that deserve to be mentioned and praised.

At the start, the young Elvis goes to the gospel church and reinvents himself. The entire sequence establishes his case where his passion for different music genres and the dance moves came from.

Then the first live performance was directed really well. Even if the sequence was not inspired by any true incident, that shot was necessary liberty to describe the first shockwaves of listening and watching to Elvis. Colonel’s description of Elvis from that scene as ‘A Taste of Forbidden Fruit’ is the most perfect one-liner I can listen to about a music legend used in the film.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker will eat the sympathetic Elvis loyalists as the cruelty he imposed on his troubling life is painful to cause heartbreak, especially when Elvis collapses and Colonel orders to make him ready for the show. Tom Hanks displays a performance that successfully sparks hatred and annoyance. It was necessary and the legendary actor nails that.

And the biggest delight and the most positive angle of the film is Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis. Thank God Harry Styles was not finalized. I cannot imagine any actor giving his utmost effort to physically present Elvis out from the role on par or better than Austin Butler. This is an Oscar-worthy performance. This guy actually sang those tracks in the film, no singer playbacked him. The dance moves and some of Elvis’ memorable performances are so magnificently and accurately portrayed. The emotional fluctuations and breakdowns are so well acted throughout the film. Had Baz committed a mistake in choosing his Elvis, the film would have met the disaster. A huge burden of the film and Elvis’ legacy are well carried.


ELVIS
Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Hugh Stewart
Caption: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CLOSING REMARKS

Elvis rejects being an authentic biographer and chooses to captivate and entertain the young audience about how Elvis and his music defined the era. Elvis focused on what took the king to become easily the greatest music entertainer until the arrival of Michael Jackson. The film is depicted from the colonel’s angle and it would have been so meaningful if the film was depicted from Elvis’ angle.

RATINGS: 5.5/10

Film Review: Prey (2022)

Naru is a young Comanche woman who, along with other tribal people, lives in the Northern Great Plains in the early eighteenth century. Seeking recognition amongst men by becoming a hunter, she witnesses a spaceship in the clouds. Later on, some brutal animal killings make her realize that this hunter is enormous in size and not a human but no one believes her until the predator steps into their territory and starts killing her people and animals.

Prey is a prequel to the Predator franchise, a celebrated science fiction horror series that established cult status in the 1980s. After producing four Predator films and multiple crossovers with Alien, an idea was coined to work on the origins of the predator. I find it an interesting idea to develop a predator’s origins to be traced three hundred years back, an idea that is applicable due to its being extraterrestrial specie. Plus the idea of such a specie in the historic setup is pretty fresh.

What makes Prey more remarkable is the technical brilliance maneuvered in a Comanche subtlety. How fascinating it is to watch authentic portrayals of indigenous North Americans! It never looked like Prey fell into stereotypical portrayals degrading the particular communities into something one-dimensional. This was certain because film producer Jhane Myers is a Comanche and belongs to a Blackfoot Confederacy.

How captivating are the camera work and the directional value enhances the slow proceedings without haste with Naru as the central figure struggling to build a repo. Until the predator shows up, the screenplay is well settled and the audience has been made fully excited to make guesses about how on earth is Naru going to fight herself against such a creature.

It is a win-win impetus when the feminine portrayal of struggle and gallantry is well dramatized. Naru is Wonder Woman in the Predator’s world. Her heroism never fades and at no point does the story takes the liberty to drop a foolish act of exaggerating the screenplay for the sake of entertainment.

Prey is dark, plunged into appealing action sequences with the strong support of Dan Trachtenberg‘s direction and the lively appearance of Amber Midthunder who never makes you dull and dizzy in limited plotting. The life of tribespeople is well dramatized and emphasized in their usual routine by the break of the morning. Observe, the first scene and another that occurred in around twenty-eight minutes with Naru waking up and looking at other people leaving for work.

There are pretty few minuses but the one that reflects my dislikeness is not making the whole film in the Comanche language. The realism would have met its utter respect and authenticity if the Comanche people were merely speaking their own language instead of English.

Besides, I feel Prey has done its part and there is no sign of getting disappointed at all. This film has upgraded the cult interest of the global audience for the Predator franchise and holds a lot of promises for Predator’s future prequel films continuity.

RATINGS: 8.6/10

Film Review: The Gray Man (2022)

When the CIA’s assassin ‘Sierra Six’ finds out that the man he was assigned to kill was a former CIA assassin like him and has evidence of the corruption of the CIA’s lead agent on the assassination mission, Denny Carmichael, Six decides to go rebel and escape. Carmichael hires Lloyd Hansen to track him down and collect the evidence.

The Gray Man can be considered an unofficial tribute to old-school action films and I must admit that it takes courage for the Russo brothers to take such a risk of making an action-thriller with such an ensemble cast.

I noticed in the fighting sequences that there was something about the use of colors during the fights. When Six fights the target in Bangkok, colorful firecrackers enchant the whole scene. Then pink flares are enthralled when Six fights in the plane. It is interesting that there were some particular elements involved to make the fights look interesting.

But there are numerous plotholes and the continuity of the story does not impress. I mean there is nothing much to appeal to the audience. The story is an expired cake, the whole screenplay renders a predictable conclusion. It is not some phenomenal direction even. When you have actors like Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in the lead with such an impressive supporting lineup of Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thornton, Alfre Woodard, Jessica Hanwick, and Wagner Moura, the expectations are higher.

Dhanush got some decent minutes in the film and was really impressed with his action sequences. I thought he may get a couple of scenes like any Indian film star in an American film. Perhaps the Russo brothers are considering actors from the Indian film industry to join their films for supporting roles. Randeep Hooda had mesmerizing fighting sequences with Chris Hemsworth in ‘Extraction‘ that the Russo brothers produced.

The one actor that impressed me a lot was little butterfly Julia Butters who displayed a really delicate performance that surely gave all the viewers a feeling of amazement.

The Gray Man is certainly neither bad nor boring. The one action sequence that gave me a thrill was when Six is arrested in Vienna and the mercenaries try to down him. This scene was stretched to around ten minutes. Keeping the whole common sense aside, it was an exciting scene to be entertained. So this is a typical action thriller that can be enjoyed when your friends crash into your room along with popcorn, chips, and soft drinks.

RATINGS: 4/10

Film Review: Anek (2022)

Anek is about a government official secret agent Aman who is sent to the Northeast region to negotiate a peace deal between the government and the separatist groups.

A director-actor combo of Anubhav Sinha and Ayushmann Khurrana who are enjoying the peak of their careers for the last few years come up with a very sensitive socio-political subject of the North Indian people.

It is good to observe that a few films have been produced in recent years that are based on the racism that the Northern Indians have been facing for quite some time. Communal subjects have gradually increased over the last decade which indicates that the audience is now enthusiast to try watching different content.

Unfortunately and to my own surprise, Anek neither picks screentime from a solid-looking plot nor the writing does any justice during the prosecution of the film. There is no impression from the aesthetics besides action sequences. The film is over-talkative and some scenes are overstretched. Around 150 minutes of screentime with an uninspiring plot leads to nowhere but disappointment.

There are a few scenes that were shot well though. There is a scene where Aman and Anjaiyyah argue about how to define an Indian, it was a thoughtful conversation. Then the performance of Niko’s mother when she mourns and cavils to Aman at the funeral. For me, the best scene of the film was that one-shot scene in the village when Niko witnesses a series of arrests and some parts of the place put to fire.

Anek could have been a masterpiece if the screenplay was engrossing and held a grip on an important subject. The film visibly began to collapse after approximately thirty minutes.

RATINGS: 4/10

Film Review: Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (2022)

Reet Thakur (Kiara Advani) along with another traveler Ruhaan Randhawa (Karthik Aaryan) travels to her hometown to marry her fiancée when she discovers that her sister loves him. Unwilling to marry, Reet plots to get her sister married to him by faking her death. When the family gets suspicious of her being alive in the mansion, Ruhaan covers her identity by giving a false idea that he has the ability to see the unseen that coincides with the reappearance of Manjulika’s spirit that was imprisoned in one of the rooms of the mansion for eighteen years.

The first thing that the audience must understand is that Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is not the continuity from Priyadarshan‘s Bhool Bhulaiyaa, the 2007 big hit that achieved cult status. Nor the film needs to be compared with it. There are a lot of emotions the fans attached to the original work due to the memorable roles of Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan, Priyadarshan’s typical comedy, and Pritam‘s music, especially the title song.

Akshay’s role going to Karthik also raised eyebrows including mine because I felt it was too risky to hand over this role. The role was made for Akshay and vice versa. Not sure if any other actor would have done justice. The only similarity in the casting was Rajpal Yadav‘s memorable role of Chhote Pandit played again.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is the reimagining of the original story with some smart elements in writing that makes bring back Manjulika but I think the writer fails to conclude the story for preferring to sensationalize the climax. Some portions of humor were silly and lame but some were funny. Karthik did a fair job in his capacity but nowhere close to what Akshay did. That element was badly missing.

The wisest decision in making this film was signing Tabu for Manjulika, a role that Vidya perfected in the previous film and gave her her first shot at recognition as a promising actress that later on shaped a wonderful acting career. Who else could have played this difficult role other than Tabu? Tabu is senior to Vidya in age and career so I was concerned about the character’s strength and body language but I later realized that this is a different Manjulika. And I must pause my review and express that I was hypnotized at Tabu. She looked so young and beautiful for a 51-year-old actress. And unsurprisingly an excellent performance.

Was the second part necessary? I think it is not about the need. There is no harm if the director reimagines the whole story to go in a different direction. If I do not assume this film to have any respective link with the previous film, it may look acceptable to some extent. For me, this film keeps reminding me of the former which is a sentimental form of judging the current film. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is an entertainer and this is what clicking here.

RATINGS: 6/10

Film Review: Runway 34 (2022)

Captain Vikrant Khanna (Ajay Devgn) is an accomplished and self-possessed pilot whose next mission is to fly Skyline Airway from Dubai to Cochin along with his First Officer Tanya Albuquerque (Rakul Preet Singh) but the aerial journey gets complicated when a cyclone hits Cochin and are diverted to Trivandrum. A miscommunication jeopardizes their landing because Trivandrum is also affected by the bad weather. And during all this, Captain Vikrant attempts to save all the lives from an aviation disaster.

Runway 34 is a thriller film also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani. And within a film, there are two films or shall I say a film easily divided into two different parts of the continuity. The first half of the screentime is about the flight, the aerial sequence of Vikrant and Tanya; and the second half is about the courtroom drama, the inquiry about facts and findings to determine whether the pilots were at fault or not.

My observation is also divided into two and perhaps this is why Runway 34 failed at the box office but that is the other debate to look after. The first half was a remarkable aviation tale to dramatize. An interesting build-up to a flight. Ajay Devgn, the director himself, presented the character of Vikrant in a way to the audience that we realize that the captain is self-possessed, cold, confident, problem-fixer, and eideticker. And then the preparation of flying the plane. Here, I liked the editing of the film, in fact, the whole first half had the drama holding distinction in the editing. Yes, I expected a better ambiance building from the passengers due to the low-scale acting. But more than that, the first half gave us quite an intensity you really do not expect from a mainstream film from B-town. Not an expert or hold some advanced knowledge about aviation so really cannot judge the entire pilot-to-pilot conversation or the one with the air traffic control tower.

review of ‘Runway 34’.

As much as the first half peaked with excellence in most aspects, the second half lets you down. It was easily one of the worst follow-ups from an impressive first half I have watched in recent years. And I am surprised because usually, the dramatizing of courtroom sequences is mostly the one that captivates the audience. Even Hindi films from the past decade hold quite an impressive track record of courtroom dramas. And here, that should have been a piece of a delicious red velvet cake, and moreover that having the luxury of two highly impressive lengthy dialogue-speaking actors, Ajay and Amitabh, the courtroom drama failed to live up to the hype and ruined the film.

The settlement of the courtroom and the entire proceeding was boring, predictable, and built on dubious writing. Amitabh’s Narayan Vedant, the head of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was certainly a brain teaser in the courtroom sequences but the character was not developed nor did we get a magnitude of investigation on a broad scale. Narayan’s fact-finding needed a lot of minutes. There was no heat between Vikrant and Narayan. I wanted to see the same intensity in the courtroom sequences as Ajay Devgn built in the flight sequences. Vikrant’s wife being so cool about discovering that her husband was partying with some Anjali that the whole night looked so artificial. How did the passenger, whose mother died, get Vikrant’s number? In light humor, Ajay Devgn was quite inclined to advertise smoking cigarettes throughout the film.

Acting-wise, they were all to their usual, nothing special. We have watched Amitabh giving lengthy addresses quite a lot in his recent films. Rakul perhaps gets a career boost through this film.

I have observed most of the audience on social media comparing Runway 34 to Clint Eastwood‘s Sully and Robert ZemeckisFlight and declaring it copied which is utter nonsense. Runway 34 is based on the real incident that happened in 2015 when Jet Airways flight 9W 555, a Boeing 737-800, flew from Doha to Kochi but the pilot decided to divert to Trivandrum.

The viewers need to fact-check because due to the negativity, the idea of watching a certain film is taken into a negative perspective. As far as I can write about this film, Runway 34’s biggest disappointment is the second half which ruined a promising first half. The execution went wrong; therefore the film missed out on talking about a quality aviation story.

RATINGS: 6/10

Film Review: The Kashmir Files (2022)

The film centers around Kashmir Valley in 1989 or 1990 when the hatred for the Kashmiri Hindu Pandits ignite and the Islamic militant terrorists begins to butcher them in their way. This is the story of an old teacher Pushkar Nath Pandit (Anupam Kher) who witnesses the riots and protects his grandson Krishna (Darshan Kumar) but loses everyone in the family who are murdered by his own former student Farooq Malik Bitta (Chinmay Mandlekar) who is now the militant commander of the terrorist organization there.

I assume ‘The Kashmir Files‘ is the second chapter of director Vivek Agnihotri‘s Files Trilogy because Vivek’s previous film was The Tashkent Files and his next project is The Delhi Files. So it is quite an interesting and bold step towards planning to make films in Bollywood in a particular direction that is out of stereotypical masala entertainment which is still the usual existence. Plus a type of casting in both Tashkent and Kashmir indicates that the director is selective to rope actors where he believes that they suit the roles. He is not prioritizing his options to commercialize the chances of generating a lot of money but addresses issues through his stories.

His previous film Tashkent was a necessary wake-up call to the audience for remembering India’s former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri whose death is still a mystery. And now he raises the political issue of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the latest film. A subject hardly anyone had been raising for decades. Genocide of Kashmiri Hindus that, to my surprise, is termed their exodus. Being impressed with how Vivek executed Tashkent, I was interested to see how he directed Kashmir. With a cordial disappointment, ‘The Kashmir Files’ heavily turns out to be some propaganda film.

I do not deny the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits who became refugees in their own country nor do I whitewash the tragic chapters of Kashmir’s history. It is the awful screenplay that indicates that the intention of the director was more to highlight straight visible hatred for the Muslim community rather than addressing the political event’s bullet anecdotes. Almost all the sequences that involved a Muslim character portrayed some special kind of evil sent on the earth to uproot the existence of Hindus in the state.

A stereotypical portrayal of the Muslims was something else we have watched in Indian films for decades but this film looks intentionally clear sending a wrong message to raise hatred for the Muslims. In one particular scene, a woman seeks advice from an elder Muslim with a Jinnah cap and reddish-brown dyed beard about her son’s education. In reply, out of nowhere, the man goes pervert and starts harassing her. Crazy writing!

I can judge the film by considering any of the two possibilities. One is that the hatred of Kashmiri Muslims for the Hindu Pandits was as real as portrayed in the film and involved no intentional agenda of misleading the general population of India believing that the Muslim community is the root cause of the evil that aims to kill their race. Second, the director chose one side of the story to address the fate of Kashmiri Pandits by dragging the Muslims in a villainous nature and labeling it a religious matter rather than a political matter. I choose the latter.

Why? Because every single Muslim character had a negative portrayal that sparks the intentions of the director and raises eyebrows. There were no sides to the coin, the story of the film was genuinely one-dimensional which made me think if Vivek Agnihotri directed the film or Narendra Modi? Did RSS finance this film? At such a terribly slow pace of almost a three-hour film, I felt as if this was some experimental film where the makers decided to treat Muslims like Nazis and Hindus like Jews.

Again, I do not deny the historic events of the Kashmiri Pandits’ genocide and indeed Muslims were the ones involved in their killings but the film played a vital role in making this an issue of religion rather than politics. As compared to all the agenda films produced in Bollywood, The Kashmir Files got unusual publicity, media coverage, and endorsement from the ruling party despite mixed reviews from the critics. The film was screened at around 600 cinemas across India which speaks a lot. Narendra Modi himself endorsed the film by stating the film as a truth that was suppressed for years.

Coming back to my review, the motive of watching the film was not only to observe the nature and the aesthetics of the film but to judge the technical aspects that made my case for watching the film right. I feel that ‘The Kashmir Files’ was made personally for Anupam Kher who has his sentiments involved in the story. Not only is he a Kashmiri Pandit but the name of his father was also Pushkar Nath. It is like an offer for a lifetime he cannot refuse and this is why we watch a different Anupam Kher that we never observed in his past 500 films. Surely his best performance since ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara‘. Mithun Chakraborty also gave quite an impressive performance. At first, I was concerned about how come a Bengali actor will portray a Kashmiri as Mithun’s usual accent doesn’t change while playing any character at all. But the name of Mithun’s character is Brahma Dutt and Dutt are Bengali Kayasthas so his role in Kashmir fits. Cinematography is one of the film’s plusses.

The Kashmir Files is bleak, one-dimensional, and committed to factual inaccuracies with awful script and direction leading to nowhere but encouraging hate speech by generalizing Islamophobia.

RATINGS: 3/10