Tag Archives: Hindi film

Film Review: Sanju (2018)

It is my firm believe that when the producers and the director decides to make a film based on an individual, your account your narration your presentation should be precise especially in a case when the individual has a disturbed life blended with the personal violence, shattered image, serious accusations, drug abuse and complicated relations with the family and friends.

The Indian cinema with many unforgettable celebrities offer scores of background stories which has the required material to translate their lives in the reels. Sanjay Dutt is one such story and when the project was announced, I was excited. But when the news broke that Rajkumar Hirani would be directing this, my court of judgments objected the announcement with a question mark bigger than the one in the headline of the cropped newspaper from the scene.

Because Raju Hirani is known to present the subjects and messages to the viewers with a screenplay which can adjust a well equipped rib-tickling comedy. Munnabhai duology, 3 Idiots and PK worked well with the humor because the stories of all the four films were fictional and flexible enough to bend with a typical Hirani humor.

But Baba’s story is dark, real, serious, traumatic, painful and disturbing. Will Raju Hirani make his first serious film or will his directional artistry of presenting sensitive subjects in a cleverly humorous way, this time on the real subject, will work again?

When the teaser and trailer were released, the presentations didn’t buy me at all. Because the seriousness of the content was glorified and looked entertaining instead of thought-provoking. So I said to myself, let me watch the film first and decide if the biopic justifies.

Now that I have watched on Netflix, I am much convinced to conclude that Sanju is easily one of the worst biographic films I have ever watched. This work is easily Raju’s worst. Raju making Sanju is like Taika Waititi making Thor: Ragnarok.

Sanju is bad, really bad, on many counts. One major reason is that when you watch the film and if you are a good observer, you realize that the motive of this film is to give a visual presentation of Sanjay Dutt by his close friend Raju Hirani concluding “Look guys! he was a bad boy, now he is a good boy, so please forgive him”. Baba doesn’t need to earn his name, people love him, people adore him. He has one of the biggest fan-following among the South Asians on a global stage. So stop being naive and focus on the most sensitive incidents of his life because this film is extremely sympathetic to the actor.

And that is where Sanju disappoints me. The screenplay dreadfully emphasizes on his drug usage and relation with his father than anything. You make a lengthy 160-minute film avoiding many important moments and touching a couple of topics is not a smart move. A director can do a lot of things in a screen time of 160 minutes.

MISSTAKES

Fine! Sanju has to be a miniseries to focus and touch all the vital portions of his disturbed timeline. Fine! everything cannot be presented in a very limited screen length. The director may have to divide the film into two like Gangs of Wasseypur, or consider sequel or trilogy, or overtake Tamas, LOC Kargil, and Mera Naam Joker to make the longest Hindi-language film ever to justify Baba’s life story. But I am not asking or expecting to somehow show a complete Sanjay Dutt story. At least mention or give the reference of the missing parts.

How disappointing is it to watch only the current wife, Manyata Dutt, but completely ignoring his other two wives? Especially the first one, Richa Sharma, who died of the brain tumor and was mentally disturbed by the rumors of her husband getting married to Madhuri Dixit. Speaking of the latter, Sanjay-Madhuri affair being once the most famous talk of the town got no space in the screenwriting of the film. With this effect, Baba’s eldest daughter Trishala is automatically out of the frame and shows only two young kids from the current wife, Manyata.

It is strange that Baba admits to the biographer to have slept with at least 300 women including the harlots but the director is scared of speaking a few close ones in his life. Neither his off-screen affair with Tina Munim comes to exist nor Madhuri in the film. But a character Ruby is perhaps intermingled to many of his relationships. Ruby is portrayed by Sonam Kapoor in a short role but gives an impressive performance.

Another strange application is Baba’s friendship with a Gujarati New Yorker (based on his real best friend, Paresh Ghelani) to an extent of his being a major supporting role bigger than his father’s in the film but ignoring the popular jigarship with Kumar Gaurav, the actor and friend who risked his acting career and fame requesting his actor-father Rajendra Kumar to give his friend Sanjay Dutt the role of his brother in Mahesh Bhatt‘s Naam. Result? Sanjay Dutt’s good time in acting career began from this film. This Kumar Gaurav is someone about whom Baba once admitted to shedding his blood for him if required. A friend who is even the husband of his sister Namrata has no mention at all.

And Jim Sarbh‘s Borat look-alike character. It was an important role but I wonder if the director forgets to bring him back in the frame after he speaks to the biographer to check Kamlesh. His role ends pretty prematurely.

DUTTS

Only Baba’s father, Sunil Dutt, is the center of attraction from the entire Dutt parivar. Paresh Rawal plays the senior Dutt’s role which is quite an odd choice. Neither the personality nor the voice of Sunil Dutt reminds you of Paresh Rawal. Paresh Rawal’s role wasn’t close to the senior Dutt but was similar to what he did in Paa. Aamir Khan was offered Sunil Dutt’s role which he refused because of Dangal’s shooting. Paresh and Aamir both were bad choices. In fact, it is hard to find someone like Sunil Dutt to play that role. Surendra Pal perhaps. Unfortunately, there are no heart-melting scenes of the onscreen father-son to take back, neither the seaport scene nor the magic-hug scene.

Baba’s sisters hardly spoke any dialogues in the film. The mother-son onscreen chemistry is shockingly overlooked. Manisha Koirala playing his famous actress-mother Nargis has to be the only satisfying selection in the entire casting. Not only Manisha does resemble but even acts like Nargis so well and alas, she is there for only a few minutes.

At least 1993 Bombay bombings made it into the script among the traumatic incidents of Dutt’s life but even here, Raju Hirani was not interested to go deeper in details and tell us about Sanjay Dutt’s connection with Abu Salem or any terrorist involved in the tragic incident.

BAD USE OF WOMANIZING HUMOR

It is quite bizarre to observe how womanizing is taken so light because it is a sympathetic script based on Baba to clean his image. If this film was based on a notorious criminal, the confession of completing a triple century on the bed would have dropped a nuclear weapon on the viewers. On the contrary, when Baba confesses, Manyata chuckles and the biographer is impressed and it looks way odd for entertainment. Not only this, Baba’s one-night stand with his best friend’s girlfriend hardly makes any sense. This incident is true as per Paresh Ghelani but the portrayal of a well-cultured Gujarati girl shy of wearing a nightie for her man at Baba’s house suddenly turning into Venus bold enough to shamelessly expose her skin to Baba and show a willingness to make out with him looked overdramatic. From Sita to Monroe in 40 seconds, a typical Bollywood u-turn for the viewers! And what is this five-minute sequence even doing in the film in the first place? Was this sequence relevant?

These 160 minutes could have been better utilized or reduced if Raju Hirani would not have pulled a Taika Waititi. Needless and forced humor damaged the screenplay. Not only Gujarati girl scene, many irrelevant scenes like a sleepy politician, over exaggerating Tripathi’s Bapu-Sanju comparison, hospital scene with the death of Ruby’s father, Ruby’s change of heart over her favorite animal, Sanju’s scenes with Bandu Dada also made it in the cut.

RANBIR KAPOOR AS SANJAY DUTT

Now about Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt. See, the first matter of fact is to admit that if there is anyone who can play Baba’s role is Baba himself because finding an actor to play him is most likely unworkable. So the selection of Ranbir for the role is by far the closest a director can think of because Ranbir naturally carries two exceptional qualities of Baba. One is height and the other is the voice.

No offense but sometimes I feel if Ranbir is Baba’s son more than Chintu‘s. Ali Asgar has to be Chintu’s son. Anyway, the struggle over being Baba has to be tougher because on the screen we do see Ranbir giving his best Sanjay Dutt impression as much as he can. Height and voice naturally helped Ranbir. The rest was the bravura of the makeup and styling artist whoever he/she was.

Let’s not say if this is Ranbir’s best performance to date because I believe his performance in Rockstar and Barfi was far superior to this. Because it is all about the execution of the role. Ranbir’s presentation of pain and grief in Rockstar is more compliant than in Sanju. His role in Barfi was more challenging and handicapped.

Ranbir with the gifted height and voice had strong assistance of makeup, styling and costume designing helping further to assume him Baba. But after all the tools and despite carefully adopting Baba’s mannerism, Ranbir reminds Ranbir.

There is one really intense scene in the jail when the pot overflows. Baba loses patience and gets emotionally disturbed. He repeatedly knocks the door while the water touches his feet. This is the time when I wait to see how Ranbir as Baba loses his patience and go maniac. But then the scene ends and moves two months later?!?!


It is not that the film is completely nil. Being a biopic, it do has some accuracies like Baba ticking all the drugs while filling the form, trying to commit suicide, the judge clearing him from terrorism, hiding heroin in his shoes while traveling with his sisters, Nargis dying a few days before Rocky‘s premiere, Tabu giving Filmfare Award for Munnabhai MBBS etc. Makeup, styling and costume designing are also top notch.

But then so many technical mistakes like chronological inconsistencies over most of the vehicles used in different timelines. Look at the KFC chain behind Baba during his struggle to reach New York. That is the current branding philosophy of the chain applied. That scene is from the 80s and KFC branding philosophy was extremely different back then.

Unnecessary tracks stretch the length and the background score is extremely ordinary. Leaves me towards Raju’s direction which I believe is the weakest of all the films he has directed. The story and the screenplay don’t buy me at all.

The filmmakers have to decide if the Indian cinema is ready for biopics. And when I say biopics, that means an honest and accurate biopics. Another point which comes to my mind is that the director must believe that a biopic can win the audience even without being concerned to entertain and box-office results.

I must appreciate that Ranbir did his best being Baba. He is a very talented actor. I am sure if project Sanju would have gone to the right man, may have pulled the right strings.

Ratings: 3/10

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Film Review: Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017)

Now, this is a certain film which drives a lot of attention due to the subject and the grip of the story/screenplay. Located in Bhopal are four inter-connected stories of four ladies of different age-groups.
 
One is a young Muslim girl, Rehana (Plabitha Borthakur). A huge Miley Cyrus hardcore fan whose individual freedom is very restricted because of her family and background which propels her towards stealing fashionable clothes and cosmetics items which her parents will never allow.
 
The other is a young parlour-running beautician, Leela (Aahana Kumra), who loves a photographer but is forced to marry someone but is still digging ways to elope with him in a pre-marital confound relationship.
 
The third is a housewife, Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma), whose husband comes from Saudia to meet his family and release his frustration on her. She secretly works as door-to-door saleswoman because her husband doesn’t allow.
 
And the fourth is the old matriarch, Buaji (Ratna Pathak Shah) who secretly is an avid reader of erotic novels which drives her to reimagine herself young with intimate desires.
 
Lipstick Under My Burkha is about women succumbing in a male-oriented society seeking individual freedom and trying to increase more privacy. All the four stories are well directed. The film editing and the screenplay gives a realistic impression and the portrayal of the collective society is purely sublime.
 
The dialogues are brilliant, production and costume designs give a broader image in the detailing of the interconnected stories. The background score is a fitting beat on the existing environment of the film.
 
All the performances, especially of the four leading ladies, are fabulous. But the one who was outstanding amongst all was Ratna’s Buaji character. This role was a very challenging run of her acting career.
 
5-star to the female director, Alankrita Shrivastava, who has really given a powerful direction. Even the smallest details in the plot especially all the sexual behaviours and emotional fluctuations are top-notch. Alankrita has splendidly translated the difference of sexual desires and fantasies running in the women. Some fantasies which unfortunately do not become reality makes a sane person insane and that is how she has developed her story and dropped your emotions.
 
Yes, the way the story is concluding is pretty quick and rapid but simultaneously, Alankrita shows the audience that the struggles meet no ends and compromise with the existing one.
 
LUMB is produced under the banners of Prakash Jha Productions. The film has also been premiered in numerous film festivals across the world. It is indeed one of the best films produced in 2017 and is recommended to all sensible filmgoers. Yes, it is a black comedy but the film should not be taken lightly considering woman as a sex material to enjoy the film but also to understand her escapism from the happenings of the mediocre society.
 
RATINGS: 8.8/10

Film Review: Dhanak (2016)

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The subject of Nagesh Kukunoor‘s films is always fascinating. His latest project is Dhanak, a tale of orphan siblings in the northern area of India where a SRK-fan sister Pari convinces her blind Salman Khan-fan brother Chotu to take him to Jaisalmer where SRK is active in shooting for an eye-donation event. Pari is convinced by a fortuneteller that Chotu will suffer if she doesn’t reach Jaisalmer to treat his blindness within three days.

From there begins a wonderful journey towards the different northern parts of India where they meet people from different walks of life who aid them reach their destiny. Kukunoor makes the destiny look a colourful dream with blends of cultural significance to spiritual addicts with combusting food for stomach afflicts.

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There are severe odds over not meeting SRK but thanks to a wonderful screenplay which justifies the extraordinary stories of very ordinary people. The chemistry of the siblings, played by young kids Hetal Gada and Krrish Chhabria is very lively and natural. Both especially Chotu actor has given a splendid performance. Their arguments are very real and hilarious which creates a tone and makes you watch the destiny.

Kukunoor has depth in the presentation of realism in various ways. He dramatises the blood relations very well and he has done in his early films. It is quite deep and tragic that siblings do not get the proper caring from their guardians as much as they are well received by the outsiders. Also, I liked the segment of siblings meeting an American hippy from California.

 

I am very impressed with the background score and production of songs used in the film by Tapas Relia. Easily the best number is hippy Douglas Adam (Chet Dixon) singing a wonderful rendition of Damadam Mast Qalandar with Chotu (voiced by Devu Khan Manganiyar).

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The irony of the fate of Dhanak is that such a sensible storytelling masterpiece hardly earned mere 2.5 crore INRs which shows a mark of disinterest among the Indian viewers and stellar interest towards the popular masala entertainers. Whereas the very same film has earned an international acclaim in many film festivals.

The film won the Crystal Bear Grand Prix for Best Children’s Film in 65th Berlin International Film Festival. Also, includes in the accolades is the Best Film award in Sneaker’s Children Festival, Poland.

Dhanak is easily one of the best children’s films made in Bollywood in recent years or perhaps this century so far.

Ratings: 8.3/10

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My Bollywood’s Best of 2014

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Since I became a blogger writing sporadic pieces, I have given my opinion for most of the movies I have watched. There was a time when I used to watch Hindi movies with utter passion but now I hang my glasses. With calendar year passing by, my rate of watching Hindi-language movies have fallen drastically low now. Reasons are many but majorly what is lacking in nowadays Hindi-movies is a material which make you invest your time quality.

Bollywood still in its second decade of the century majorly lacks stories on which a perfect screenplay can be implemented and put to work. Quality of acting is not sublime and no matter how good the music sounds, the worse are the lyrics. Every beginning of the year, Bollywood and its pundits, moviegoers and viewers are focused on the most prestigious movies award, FILMFARE. Unfortunately, Filmfare also do not justify most of the awards and have richly fallen under the good-pockets and well-known showbiz families.

In last five years, I have noticed a slight change in movie production companies introducing new faces or encouraging some deserving talents and publicizing their image and promoting their movies on high-scale. In 2014, contrary to my expectations, I have watched some good movies. I chose almost 25 movies from the list of Hindi-language movies of last year from Wikipedia, which helped me increase my options of deciding to pick a promising movie. Some were disappointing but some were exciting.

Today in this blog, I present you my Bollywood’s best of 2014 from most of the categories I have scrutinized. This is the first time I am blogging for Bollywood and will also publish for Hollywood in near future. I will discuss most of the categories if not all and mention some noteworthy names related to that category. The categories are under three different sections.  So here I go;

MUSICAL SECTION

BEST BACKGROUND SCORE

A.R.RAHMAN (HIGHWAY)

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Other Notable Works: Vishal Bharadwaj (Dedh Ishqiya), Amit Trivedi (Queen) & Mathias Duplessy (Finding Fanny)

 

BEST PLAYBACK SINGERS

MIR MUKHTIYAR ALI (FANNY RE – FINDING FANNY)

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REKHA BHARDWAJ (JAGAAVE SAARI RAINA – DEDH ISHQIYA)

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BEST SONG & LYRICS

PATAKHA GUDDI (NOORAN SISTERS/IRSHAD KAMIL/A.R.RAHMAN – HIGHWAY)

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HDTS80dlr4

Other Notable Works: Bismil (Sukhwinder Singh/Gulzar/Vishal Bhardwaj – Haider)

 

BEST MUSIC

MATHIAS DUPLESSY (FINDING FANNY)

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Other Notable Works: Amit Trivedi (Queen) & Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (2 States)


 

TECHNICAL SECTION

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

SUDESH ADANA (BISMIL – HAIDER)

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

PAYAL SALUJA (DEDH ISHQIYA)

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There are two prominent features in Dedh Ishqiya which gives you detailed texture – dialogues and costumes. Most of the shooting was done in Mahmudabad Palace near Barabanki. As per the script, ancient Urdu era was revitalized with royalty. So this adds major concern with two aforementioned features. Payal Saluja (Raanjhanaa, Ishqiya, Maqbool) has done fantastic work with costume designing and her first marks will raise your eyebrows when the attendees will gather in royal party in Begum Para’s Haveli. Excellent dress-work on Naseeruddin Shah and Huma Qureshi and most impressively on Madhuri Dixit.

Other Notable Works: Dolly Ahluwalia (Haider) & Tabasheer Zutshi (Miss Lovely)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

TABASHEER ZUTSHI (MISS LOVELY)

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Ashim Ahluwalia offers a close look on the C-grade pulp Hindi-cinema of the eighties which used to make cheap horror-porn movies. It is a bold movie with independent theme where the director exposes backstage dealings behind the curtains and problems in shooting such movies in the past. With such script on the floor, all what matters to make the movie so special is costume and production designing. If this movie proved its worth on global cinematic village, then full marks to aforementioned designing works, both projected by Tabasheer Zutshi.

Other Notable Works: Subrata/Amit (Haider & Dedh Ishqiya)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

RESUL POOKUTTY (HIGHWAY)

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One of few impressive factors from Imtiaz Ali‘s road-movie is Alia Bhatt, ARR’s background score, attractive locations and sound designing. Rahman-Resul musical duo has proved winner most of the times and also have unforgettable achievement of bagging Academy Awards for Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Although A.R.Rahman was off-color with average tracks but the sound designer was in full form.

Other Notable Works: Sanjay/Allwin (Queen) & Anilkumar/Prabal (Mardaani)

BEST SCENE

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BEST EDITING

AARTI BAJAJ (UGLY)

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Aarti Bajaj was the first spouse of Anurag Keshyup and is regular movie editor for Anurag Kashyup and Imtiaz Ali movies. She is very responsible their successful movies. The beauty of moviemaking lies in editing and my pick is Ugly. Ugly has a lot of turns, script will fold you and different characters will puzzle you. Body smashing in traffic accident in same frame was pretty unnatural but the next scene of interrogation in police station is very realistic. For me that was one of the best scenes of 2014, the reason is it was almost a 7-minute interrogation scene. Normally such scenes bore you but the editing is so marvelous that the scene grows and boils in your nerves. The way the Indian police takes the case so light is fantastically shot and well acted. Besides, scenes of driving, phone calls, searching and beatings and many more brings a true color of translating a fiction into reality. Wonderful editing!

Other Notable Works: Aarti Bajaj (Highway) & Sanjib Datta (Mardaani)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

PANKAJ KUMAR (HAIDER)

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Photography! Brilliant work by Pankaj on Haider. I cannot go with details about this but among many movies, I found cinematography of Haider the best one.

Other Notable Works: Anil Mehta (Finding Fanny & Highway)

BEST ACTION

SHAM KAUSHAL (UGLY)

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Sorry if anyone feel this pick offensive. I don’t have that level of enthusiasm for supernatural, unrealistic and larger-than-life action movies of Indian movie industry.  A lot of rage and fury, tortures and scorcher, gunshots and beatings. Ugly gives you a powerful display of action.

Other Notable Works: Manohar Verma (Mardaani)

BEST SCREENPLAY

RAJKUMAR HIRANI & ABHIJAT JOSHI (PK)

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It was tough for me to pick the movie with the most outstanding screenplay. Yes PK deserves this credit. This pair Hirani/Joshi is enjoying the booming period of scripting one of the best movies viewers have witnessed since the last decade. Under Vinod Chopra Films, they have scripted Munnabhai series, then 3 Idiots and now PK. Every aforementioned movie has a message, a rising voice towards the system transforming to roar over changing the system. Being comical in nature, their scripts marvelously have touched almost every viewer’s heart to fully accept the nature of movie. Every time their movies successfully inspires us with their trend-setting catchy dialogues. PK is no less than a revolution.

Both writers introduce an alien in the country of religions, hundreds of languages and cultures. He misses a gadget and in quest loses his edge and adapts the local language. Meanwhile he suffers a colossal hindrance towards different religious ways of breathing life. With the flow of script pulling the strings, the screenplay brilliantly develop characters to assist the alien to meet an end. Just another golden egg in their basket! Take a bow guys!

Other Notable Works: Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi) & Homi/Kersi (Finding Fanny)

BEST DIALOGUES

ANURAG KASHYUP (UGLY)

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Natural!!!! very very lively and natural. No matter if that is a sick Shalini, tortured Chaitanya, opportunist Siddhant or furious Shoumik; dialogues are not on paper but well expressed on lips. Viewer/listener will never feel an inch of unoriginality of conversation. As more there is intense, the more the dialogues burn you. Best examples are the 7-minute interrogation scene as mentioned before and where Shoumik send Rahul to the prison where Chaitaniya is imprisoned and eating food. Wonderful job Keshyup sir!

Other Notable Works: Vishal Bharadwaj (Dedh Ishqiya) & Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi)

 

BEST STORY

JANAKI VISHWANATHAN (YEH HAI BAKRAPUR)

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Ok the readers perhaps or surely will raise their eyebrows over this selection hehe but I am free to pick what I find more deserving. Many of you haven’t seen this movie and I promise you that the movie itself is below-average. But what attracts me the most is its story which is quite thought-provoking

Yeh Hai Bakrapur is a low-budget social satire based on rural part of India who blindly follow their faith. One small kid loves his goat and he doesn’t want it to get sold but his poor family has no solution to repay the debt. One young man who loves the kid’s sister, comes with a brilliant plan with the goat by painting the name ‘Allah’ on goat’s skin which makes the entire gaoonwalay fell in ultimate impression and belief that the goat is an angel and will be a sin to sell or sacrifice it. This rural blind faith following sketch is the bitter truth and a daring dilemma which speaks a lot of depth about the deception and extreme trust over something. Unfortunately the direction was painful which bombed a very scintillating subject.

 Other Notable Works: Amole Gupte (Hawaa Hawaai) & Hirani/Joshi (PK)


MAJOR SECTION

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

DIMPLE KAPADIA (FINDING FANNY)

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She is my automatic pick. One of the finest actresses in Hindi-cinema always adapt the skin of the character. She has played many different roles and in Finding Fanny, she maintains her rythm. Dimple is Mrs. Rosalina “Rosie” Eucharistica, the self-appointed ‘Lady’ of Pocolim and mother-in-law of Deepika’s character Angie. She is over-proudy for nothing and her nose touches the clouds. Some terrific screenplays eases acting gurus to add another highlight in their CV. Brilliant display of acting.

Other Notable Works: Amrita Singh (2 States) & Lillete Dubey (One by Two)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

VIJAY RAAZ (DEDH ISHQIYA)

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Tough one but this one is the best. It is no surprising for me that this man is one of the most underrated actors in Hindi cinema. His quality is that he makes the viewers observe him. He made his name from Rajat Kapoor’s Raghu Romeo. If small B’s not well-known movie ‘Run’ was a 50-50, then this ‘Kawwa Biryani’ actor was highly praised for his comedy. Amir Khan’s Delhi Belly was centered on three partners in crime but Vijay was again a specific name in talks. Now in Dedh Ishqiya, he plays another villainous role of Jaan Mohammad who is MLA-gangster of Mahmudabad. He doubles his poetry skills word-to-word copying from another poet to win Begum Paara’s heart, marry her and become the Nawab of Mahmudabad. The fury is hidden in his role as the greediness of the character gashes with the wait of approval from Begum Para. This Vijay Raaz deserves one prestigious award in his lifetime before lifetime achievement award.

Other Notable Works: Tahir Raj Bhasin (Mardaani), Manav Kaul (Citylights), Pankaj Kapur (Finding Fanny), Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi) & Vineet Kumar Singh (Ugly)

 

BEST ACTRESS

KANGANA RANAUT (QUEEN)

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Although there have been many ladies in 2014 with majestic performances but none reach the clouds where Kangana was heavily raining. Kangana’s role of Rani Mehra in Queen is unanimous. She plays the role of a middle-class girl who wishes to spend her honeymoon with her soon-to-be husband in Paris. At the last moment, the man unties the knot and with all soreness of life knocking at a wrong time with tickets in hand, she decides to visit Paris by herself and breathe the life. There begins east-meet-west and sweet simple Delhi girl experience an unforgettable journey and befriends with people from different nationalities.

The flow of story looks unnatural at most of the times but let’s focus on Kangana. Since her debut, she looked promising and finally a feast is served as she displays her best performance ever. Her facial expressions are soooo natural and normal behavior towards unexpected Parisian lifestyle is fantastic. She will make you feel when her fiancé will inform her breakup in the beginning. She will make you stare when she will struggle to dance in the bar. You can’t ask for more than that. Queen is very Kangana-show.

Other Notable Works: Monali Thakur (Lakshmi), Seema Pahwa (Ankhon Dekhi), Alia Bhatt (Highway) & Tabu (Haider)

 

BEST ACTOR

SANJAY MISHRA (ANKHON DEKHI)

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Yeah it was a healthy competition between the three. Two were the most popular and the one was ignored at many functions (most probably because he don’t carry the personality which may give him stardom). I pick the latter because I believe Sanjay Mishra ran the character in fact the whole script on his strings with a perfect note.  As compared to the competitors, the movie wasn’t popular to the house of commons like PK and Haider but he was solely responsible to bring the movie to fame.

Sanjay plays Bauji from Dilli’s gharib-khana who has compromised with his ego to accept only those things as reality in life which he has witnessed by himself. Impact? He loses his job, his brother & family separates home, his philosophical thoughts bring many close neighbors his devotees. It is not only about the definition of his character but the aura he brought into it. Sanjay is a thespian and Bauji is melodramatic.

The character of Bauji will make you realize how comfortable how meaningful and how relief is the life you choose in the loud noisy world in your surroundings. People will laugh at you, make fun of you, of your wit and philosophy but you will remain calm. As the movie grows on you, you begin to judge him more, you begin to find him realistic more, you see yourself in him. As a father and a brother, you see the same Bauji in two different dimensions. He is an ass, a clown without makeup and a simple man who has everything to lose. Story of a terrible man with irreparable fate. Truly the best performance of the year!!

Other Notable Works: Shahid Kapoor (Haider) & Aamir Khan (PK)

 

BEST DIRECTOR

HOMI ADAJANIA (FINDING FANNY)

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Is Finding Fanny an Indian movie? I doubt, I really doubt. It will take the whole duration of movie to find out that it is an Indian movie because of its extremely rich portray of realistic sketching of realism and technicality of movie making. When you watch this, you will feel watching a Western European movie. Homi Adajania directed Being Cyrus and Cocktail before this.

From comedy to suspense, it is absolute entertainer. The characters are defined in the beginning, the story is developed and sprinted without any nonsense. Screenplay and editing of the movie has also played a major part to praise the director’s efforts to make such an incredible movie.

Why direction is so effective? Why this movie looks different from the others? Because of Pocolim? To some degree, I agree but Homi’s homework paid off. To make the movie look creative, natural and very realistic, Homi spent a month in village Salvador do Mundo of Goa and researched/learnt its culture and local Goan Catholics. Superb direction!!

Other Notable Works: Hansal Mehta (CityLights), Anurag Kashyup (Ugly) & Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi)

 

BEST MOVIE

ANKHON DEKHI

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The last and most important category of my picking. Mithiya Talkies produced thought-provoking Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor. Some movies are clobber dimensional and some are socially inspirational. Ankhon Dekhi is Rajat Kapoor’s miss call to those who have lost the battle of survival in life, who have gone hopeless to see the change and who have borrowed some time to ease and overcome their agony.

In old Dilli gharana lives the patriarch, Bauji. He lives in a small house with his family combined with his brother’s family. Has a job on which he just survives. Has a daughter who has an affair with a vagabond. Has a wife who is no less than a heater. After a lot of problems circulating on his head, he decides to accept only those things as reality which he has witnessed himself. This philosophy gives Bauji some disciples, but in off state he loses his job applying this philosophy, his brother shifts to new home with his family sick of him. Bauji has everything to lose.

Ankhon Dekhi has everything to impress you. Impressive story, brilliant screenplay, social satire, natural dialogues, simple costumes, one of best performances by any ensemble cast of 2014. It had tough competition in this category but I found Ankhon Dekhi reclusive. A wonderful movie!!

Other Notable Works: Ugly, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore, Citylights, PK & Finding Fanny

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Movie Review: Rang Rasiya (2014)

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Once upon a time there was a painter from Travancore and a very attractive woman. They were destined to meet in their lifetime. One day it happened to be the moment when the painter’s eyes caught the attention of that lady worshiping in the temple. Her beauty inspired the painter to paint God and Goddesses as human beings. He began sketching her in different shade of moods and gifted her a major surprise by meeting her outside the temple. After she saw the sketches, she got attracted to him.

 

This was the time when Hindustan or British India was stuck with the infinite political crisis of seeking independence from British Raj and leaving the colonial prestige. Painting was seen as a token of appreciation towards the painter for his enormous talent of depicting his skills in art of drawing a particular substance. In the painter’s case, he was too broad to be accepted among the conservatives, orthodox and traditional people who believe in more social and moral code over their culture and religion.

Where the printed images of his collections made the common man worship the Gods in their houses, shops and community gatherings, few of them didn’t accept. His paintings of human beings as Hindu Gods or Goddesses enraged a particular community of fundamentalists and the case went to the local court. Till that time, his popularity had reached America and Europe. The painter was India’s finest revolutionary painter, Raja Ravi Verma and the inspirational lady was Sugandha Bai.

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This story is from a biographical novel ‘Raja Ravi Verma’ written by Ranjit Desai. The movie on which this novel is based is ‘Rang Rasiya‘. It is a Hindi-Sanskrit language movie with some doses of English dialogues directed by National Award winning director Ketan Mehta (Mirch Masala, Sardar, Mangal Panday). Randeep Hooda is Raja and Nandana Sen is Sugandha. This movie took 6 years to release due to the certain objection of the Censor Board’s objection with certain bold scenes that involved paint and nudity. The movie shows how the freedom of art conflicts with man-made laws, how religious bigotry disturbs the social momentum.

Selection of Nandana Sen for Sugandha was very fitting as she incidentally was Raja’s fan. When Ketan approached her for the role, he found two of Raja’s paintings at her residence which made this deal more convincing and easy. Nandana will seduce the viewer to a level. Randeep’s selection was a tough one considering the fact that Randeep had to play a 20-year-old and then a sexagenarian.

Despite the fact the direction and dialogues were pretty weak and outdated, what worked for the movie’s complements was above-average performances and terrific background score. Raja-Sugandha chemistry was worth watching, it melt your emotions with paintbrush. Randeep-Nandana have done marvelous job. Costume and art designing was superb and will give you breathing in periodic environment. 

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Overall, Rang Rasiya is a Randeep Hooda show who portrays an exceptional character from the original and gives a feeling of nearness with him when he is riding his journey from highs and lows towards the legendary art. A journey which starts from marrying a princess and ends with why-should-I-tell-you, will make you leave the enthrallment of cruelty and boundary, motivate you to live with your passion and fulfill your burning desire. Being one of the best movie of the year is very debatable but calling Rang Rasiya one of the best art-centric biopic in recent years won’t be bad.  

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: Gulaab Gang (2014)

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When producers decide to produce a movie on a very important subject, they should promise that they will choose an experienced director. The biggest reason why ‘Gulaab Gang’ failed to impress on box-office despite casting Bollywood’s two massive actresses, is the direction. Soumik Sen who wrote flop movies like Anthony Kaun Hai?, Ru-Ba-Ru and Meerabai Not Out, is handed responsibility to direct the movie for the first time in his career. Not only did he direct, but even compose music :S How can producers go for a debutant director when industry has some big names to make socio.political movies like Shekhar Kapur (Bandit Queen), Tigmanshu Dhulia (Paan Singh Tomar) or Rahul Dholakia (Parzania)?

Now before I insult this movie, let me give you brief about actual gang as opposed to what you have to expect or already have watched. The name is not Gulaab Gang but Gulabi Gang and was founded by Sampat Pal Devi when she was 20 years old. She is now a social activist from Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. This gang was founded to fight against violence against women. This gang is running for past 33 years and is composed of almost 270,000 members according to Hindustan Times and 400,000 members till 2014 according to Al-Jazeera report.

The movie begins with introductory narration by one of the best narrators in film industry. Nope not Raza Murad, not even Amitabh Bachchan nor Gulzar saab. Who are they? I am talking about Anil Kapoor. Yes Anil Kapoor!! :S The jhakaas guy has delivered his voice for couple-of-minute narration. The village is called Madhavpur which actually is in Nepal :S If I call it Madhavpur Ghed, then it is in state of Gujrat but not in U.P. 

Too much fictional work on such an important subject wastes the enthusiasm of watching it. Name of Sampat Pal Devi is Rajjo in movie. She wanted to study but her step-mother didn’t let her. In few seconds, adult Rajjo has her ashram!!! :S For God sake!! Why the origin of gang is ruthlessly ignored?? How come the director just think of making his point to dismiss the logic of ladies in pink saaris holding bamboo sticks. You have to show some piece of origins even if it take 5 minutes.All we know is that they are for protection of women against every violence but what exactly made Sampat Devi form this gang? 

Gang’s main members don’t even look that rural as the reality is. The way the gang members talk, few of them are even showing their sexy bellies put a huge doubt of Rajjo’s motto of running the gang. You won’t believe it but Rajjo’s gang is also a group of dancers, they know the song played in the air and have practiced dance steps to play together. And strong-on-paper Rajjo will all of a sudden present her latkas and jhatkas because Rajjo knows the viewers will enjoy all this. Action scenes are very terrible, some gulabi ladies hit men so hard that they even flew away :P

Madhavpur political interference is the heat which blows off when rivalry of two different faces take another stage. Two faces of coin and two big actresses of same era which is the most important marketing propaganda of the movie dumps with a jaw dropper. Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla share the screen for the first time in 28 years and appeared together only 4 times in the whole movie but sadly there was no heat. Director failed to create magic.

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If movie has anything to look after for that is only Madhuri Dixit. She brings the soul in Rajjo character. While Juhi Chawla just couldn’t fit in the role nor was she that tough to play the role of antagonist. We have seen corrupt minister or politician a billion times in movies played by men and this lady need no introduction for this role as it is understood that she will bring omen to Rajjo party. In assistancy, Gangor-fame Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale did fair job but as I said before, these individuals don’t resemble gulabi ladies. Imagine ladies like Nandita Das, Seema Biswas, Divya Dutta or even Pratima Kazmi being gulabi would bring some realism. Forget all ladies, Madhuri playing Sampat Devi!!! It was just director’s strategy to publicize the movie with Madhuri-Juhi element, the formula which didn’t work. 

Another reason of this movie failing in box-office was the international documentary ‘Gulabi Gang‘ which showed true origins and stories of the gang. Sampat Devi herself was part of the documentary. This documentary released in India a week before Gulaab Gang. With origins understood, a fictional or fake movie was discouraged by the viewers. And I will also recommend the readers to watch Gulabi Gang instead of this failed venture.

Ratings: 3.5/10

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Movie Review: Mary Kom (2014)

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Considering the fact, the boxing movies are always a great pleasure to watch like Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby and many more, same expectations are in other movie industries. In Bollywood, I remember Aamir Khan starrer Ghulam had some meat to offer although it was not really a boxing movie. Sohail Khan’s Aryan was Abhishek Kapoor’s first directional success before he went on to make Rock On and Kai Po Che. With a new trend in Bollywood of making biographic movies on sportsmen in India and with major box-office success in Paan Singh Tomar and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, we expect more from last year’s Priyanka Chopra starrer Mary Kom which despite a great box-office success, I found major disappointment.

Mary Kom is legendary figure in Indian sports and world of boxing. She holds breath taking CV with her being 4-times Asian Boxing Champion and 5-times World Amateur Boxing Champion!!! Phewww if that is not enough, then furthermore she is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships and first Indian woman boxer to win Gold Medal in Asian Games history which happened in Incheon 3 months ago.  

As the human factor subjects prominence in many many legendary careers of greatest and finest names in sports, Mary Kom is no different as she can easily be labeled with the same line ‘an ordinary person with extraordinary story’. But for the sake of entertainment and gleaming box office success to ensure the producers earn a calculated turnover, a true story is minced and realism is denied. 

Being produced by big-pocket names Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions, the director for such an important project is chosen a first timer!! :S Omung Kumar‘s CV is mostly of Art Direction and Production Designing. Name like legendary Mary Kom deserves a perfect bio epic movie with the most bullet details of her personal and professional life. Many chapters were ignored and many were framed into incorrect times and events. Her childhood part is ruthlessly ignored in minutes. Mary Kom as hardly 8-year-old child finds a glove in the beginning of movie and all of a sudden within a minute, 17-year-old Mary Kom is fighting in college :S How can one ignore the childhood part as she came from a very poor Manipur family whose bread and milk was by working slash-and-burn??

Despite a narrative sketch of brilliant husband-wife chemistry in the movie, one character the director failed to present was Mary Kom’s father-in-law, who was a very important figure in her biography. Her father-in-law was murdered by some gunmen back in 2006 and at that stage, Mary Kom blamed his death on herself and almost gave up her boxing career. Her husband had decided to join rebel group to take revenge of his father’s death. What an important phase of her life never screened!!!

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The final fight against her old rival is even a joke. No such incident happen such as shown in the movie as the movie sustained its root to recognize from a typical Bollywood movie. Even the event of final fight is confusing whether it was 2008 World Championship or later. If I assume it was 2008, the movie shows that her rival destroys her in first 2 or 3 rounds and then all of a sudden, the character returns in larger-than-life contest to beat her and take the title, whereas in reality Mary Kom owned her 7-1 in the final :S

Despite winning 5 world titles, the proudest moment in Mary Kom’s career was participation in 2012 London Olympics as for the first time in Olympics history, Women Boxing was included and Mary Kom was one of 36 participants among which she reached 3rd and won Bronze Medal. How in the world director never filmed this biggest moment???

If the movie is planned to watch, then there are only two reasons. One is to know Mary Kom’s life which I have reviewed above how it has been screwed. And other reason which actually is the only plus point of the movie is the soul itself – Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom. If her mental strength was enough tested in Barfi, here she presented her physical element. Extremely tough physical exercises and her body and soul segmented between a life of boxer and wife equally raises the applauds. She surely makes you think of Million Dollar Baby’s Hillary Swank (I am not comparing ok!!). She is strong and fully ready to take on and suffer many punches in life.

In her character, the only aspect where she couldn’t catch Mary Kom probably was her Manipuri Hindi accent. That was missing. She tried her level best but that is the problem when such an important role to the artist is taught by a teacher/director but here actress has over a decade experience in her profession then the number of times Omung Kumar has sat on director’s seat while shooting.

Rating: 4.5/10

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