Tag Archives: Hindi Movie

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: 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

Film Review: Jayeshbhai Jordaar (2022)

Jayesh lives in a traditional and conservative Gujarati household and is the son of a sarpanch. Jayesh is married to Mudra and has a nine-year-old girl, Siddhi. To give birth to a boy, Mudra has miscarried six times and is expecting a girl again. Therefore, Jayesh protects his wife and daughter by secretly running their way out.

Jayeshbhai Jordaar is a satire that raises the issue of women’s rights and gender complexity over the consequences of a pregnancy. But the film misses out on broadening the thickness of the plot. JJ started pretty impressively in the first half and then left a massive gap in writing in the second half. The film became a never-ending cat-and-mouse-chase.

As the film reflects on the social issues that I am not aware of in the Gujarati culture, a kind of superstition that the film has presented could have been managed with better care. But the problem lies in the continuity of the plot I wrote before. The director was compromised about the tone of the screenplay. At my first phase of observation looked like will settle on Jayesh protecting his family with true spirit. However, the film after the second half was pretty lost and the final thirty minutes became impossible to tolerate.

Somewhere the humor was flat and somewhere I liked the applied comedy the director reasoned for, like when Jayesh’s sister makes everyone unconscious, or the couple along with daughter faking the beatings to the elders, etc. Ranveer Singh, Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak, and even Shalini Pandey performed above average, one of the few plusses to talk about. I like how Ranveer performs this particular Gujarati role. Not an expert on the culture but this is totally different Ranveer than we usually watch. He was excellent in Gully Boy and at this scale of choices he is making at his career peak, this shows that Ranveer is serious about making his name as an actor who wants challenges.

The film deserved better writing with such a vital message. Inconsistent writing led to damages and Jayeshbhai fails to impress. The audience should watch the film for Ranveer’s performance, the rest is shattered and broken. A film that had potential is ruined by miles.

RATINGS: 3/10

Film Review: Toolsidas Junior (2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RATINGS: 4/10

Film Review: Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022)

Young Ganga (Alia Bhatt) wants to become an actress and in order to fulfill her dreams, she elopes with her boyfriend to Mumbai but in all excitement of such a young age, she never realizes the horror that awaits her. Her boyfriend sells her for Rs.1000 to a brothel and the broken Ganga becomes Gangu. And after earning a reputation amongst her fellow prostitutes, she becomes Gangubai.

This is a real-life story based on Gangubai Kothewali. She was the queen of the infamous prostitution-hub Kamathipura and did a lot for the prostitutes and orphans for decades. As expected, the film dramatized the true bond of respect between Gangubai and Karim Lala as in those times it was widely known that treat each other like siblings and no one would consider messing around with Gangubai when Lala was ruling the underworld.

I don’t have enough knowledge of Gangubai because this film is based on Hussain Zaidi‘s book, “Mafia Queens of Mumbai” and I didn’t read that. And at the start of the film, there is a disclaimer that confirms that liberty has been taken for cinematic appeal and entertainment despite being based on the book so I am not sure how many facts were changed.

And I have written many times on different platforms that Bollywood is still not ready for making bio dramas because of many reasons. And one of the reasons is that the Hindi films are generally produced for cashing from commercial business and do not provide enough facts to justify their case for being a bio-drama. Sadly, Gangubai Kathiawadi faces the same critical issue. And despite all the elements of impressions implemented for beautifying the film, Gangubai Kathiawadi is more sort of a mainstream entertainer rather than a genuine bio-drama.

One of the many problems of this film is the average direction. Sanjay Leela Bhansali never disappoints when it comes to visual artistry. He is someone who is fond of showing things in a beautiful way. Even if something is ugly, he will apply makeup on it to look a beautiful ugly.

Now observe the productional set in this film and I ask Mumbaikars here, is Mumbai’s oldest and the largest red-light district Kamathipura that beautiful as depicted in the film? And Bhansali throughout the film glorifies Gangubai as if she was some symbol of national heroism. In the final scene, after observing the celebration, I felt as if Gangubai won some presidential election in the United States.

And this is why Bhansali makes beautiful films to cover the overdramatic screenplay of ordinary storytelling that qualifies for Bollywood aesthetics. Just like his previous films, this film also gives the audience a feel of absolute noir-meet-broadway theatrical rhapsody. Superb costume and production designing. This film is zenith when it comes to technical brilliance besides two of the most important things this film lacks, and that are necessary for the making; writing and direction. All the technicalities aside, the film is below-par with many plotholes.

How come Shaukat doesn’t listen from the other door when Kamli loudly informs Gangu that Bilal has gone to inform Rahim about him? Not sure how Gangu recovered from brutal injuries after Shaukat beat her. Did the time period jump? But how far has the time passed? Not a single facial scar or a scratch! How perfectly a heavy makeup can hide the gashes? She looked exactly like she was before beaten.

One of the plusses of this film is a bunch of supporting performances coming from some well-known actors in their brief roles like Seema Pahwa, Jim Sarbh, Vijay Raaz, and Ajay Devgn. Vijay Raaz as transwoman Raziabai was all about his characterization and he did a fair job. I am surprised many are furious over Vijay Raaz’s and are questioning why a transgender was not picked? Not sure how is this a problem now. It is not mandatory that the role of a trans must have to go to a real-life trans. Otherwise, what is the beauty of judging the actor’s performance at all? How often do the trans people get offers to play the role of non-trans or non-LGBTQ roles? This is a nonsense controversy. 

Speaking of Ajay Devgn’s extended cameo playing the role of Rahim Lala that is based on one of the three biggest Mumbai dons of that time, Karim Lala. See, I don’t like Ajay Devgn’s acting, I love his acting. And he has played character roles and has had many great performances in the past. But here I blame Bhansali over the selection because, in my opinion, this has to be the worst ever portrayal of Karim Lala. First thing, Ajay doesn’t remind me of Lala nor does he has a typical Afghani Pashto accent. Lala was pretty tall, in Hussain Zaidi’s book and in some internet sources, Lala is thought to be around 7-feet tall; Ajay is hardly 6-feet. 

Ajay’s role doesn’t remind me of Karim Lala but Ajay himself. He literally did nothing different to stay in the character. I am sure many will notice that Ajay’s this performance was exactly similar to his role of Mallik in Company. And that makes me realize something. What’s up with Ajay playing the roles of some infamous mafia dons? His Company’s role was based on Chhota Rajan. In Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, his don role was based on Haji Mastan. And now Karim Lala. Who is he playing in the future? Vardhabhai?

Coming back to the point before I slip writing other than review, there are plus points too. The film successfully addressed the social issue of the prostitutes and dramatized in a way that despite all the charms and merriness they used in their makeup to perform hanging on the doors and street, they were all bunch of eternal sadists with tragic origin stories. Gangu helped many of those unfortunate cases and the film showed that those damsels in distress were re-purchased by Gangu for a hefty amount to provide them a better life. No wonder how many such stories circulated on those streets of Kamathipura.

Before I end my review, I will definitely write about the biggest plus and the most impressive factor of the film, Alia Bhatt. This was a much-needed moment in Alia’s career since she became one of the biggest victims of nepotism charges from the global netizens after Sushant Singh Rajput‘s suicide. A kind of role that challenges her to come back and prove how her body language can perfectly construct her role. There was everything to praise about Alia’s Gangu. Of course, the film revolves around Gangu but maybe the spirit would have diminished if this wasn’t for Alia. 

I have no idea what the real Gangu looked like when she was young as there is not much about her on the internet. The information about her and even her pictures are extremely finite. But Alia gave a splendid performance. And there are a few scenes where one can judge how impressively Alia executed reactions and mannerisms.

What a magnificent scene that was when rookie Gangu stands at the door and others give her tips for seducing customers. Bhansali shot that scene with quite a thought. And Alia perfected the physical behavior of an amateur harlot. In the ‘Dholida‘ track, she has a one-minute one-shot scene of enraging her dance while other women react blankly and she executes her madness so well. There is another scene where she speaks to her mom and the line is about to cut in thirty seconds and Gangu loses her temper. Some incredible portrayal of desperation was performed there. In Gangu’s first scene at the brothel, when she gets deceived and locked; I think Alia has perfected such a scenario after similar acts in Highway and Udta Punjab.

Gangubai Kathiawadi for me is a disappointment in direction and storytelling. Its technical aspects and Alia’s mindblowing performance makes this ordinary film look extraordinary.

RATINGS: 6/10

Film Review: Jhund (2022)

Vijay Borade (Amitabh Bachchan) is about to retire from college as a sports teacher. One day, he notices some boys and girls in the slum area playing football with remarkable skills. Vijay finds new enthusiasm and after his retirement, he works with them and makes a valuable effort for the development of football in the slum area for the underprivileged children.

Jhund is based on the real-life story of Vijay Barse, a resident of Nagpur who founded Slum Soccer Organization after watching a lot of slum kids playing impressive football.

See, it is a fresh idea. A lot of sports films are showing up in Bollywood every year but this one is quite different from the others.  The reason is that this sports drama doesn’t focus on a legendary player and his/her personal and professional life. This is about some children of different ages, boys and a few girls, who were involved in drugs and hoodlum. This is about the birth of a football organization that paved way for the street children throughout the country to participate, play football, and make their name.

Jhund’s aesthetics are genuine. You get a feel of a slum and I have not researched but I have a feeling that those children were all actually from the slum areas. Because those characters were so real to judge. If they really are from the slums then kudos to the makers to come up with this idea and give them a chance to work on the screen and that too with none other than Amitabh Bachchan, the only known cast of the entire film. Besides Big B, almost every actor in the film has marked his/her debut which makes me think that perhaps those people are really from the slums but not professional actors.

Unfortunately, despite a command over the story and Amitabh’s presence keeping me hooked throughout the film, Jhund has a lot of critical errors. The biggest issue is screen time and no way is this film suppose to clock nearly three hours, absolutely not! Jhund’s plot has variations and lengthy continuity for sure but the screenplay is overstretching. 

Believe it or not! there is literally a half-an-hour sequence of a football match. I get it, that was the most important scene of the film that changed the lives of slum kids and made Vijay Borade devise a plan for the foundation. But thirty minutes of a match is just too much. And even a very predictable one. And I am not sure if such a match actually occurred in a reality where those kids defeated some well-trained football team of a college with a comeback from 5-0. My mind doesn’t accept that. But when they began to score over the college team, it became highly predictable that they will stretch this whole sequence to a thrilling penalty shoot-out and win. With a better direction, this football match could have been reduced to fifteen minutes easily.

And the direction is the problem. With a lengthy screenplay, one can easily notice that the pace of the film picks up and sometimes get slow. Yes, there are scenes that needed to grow on the audience and I felt it was the need of the hour like Vijay repeatedly offering the kids to play for money and the efforts by those kids with their family and friends in submitting forms and passports for the World Cup. The latter part needed emphasis and the director dramatized all those scenes well. I liked the sequences of Monica’s struggle to make a passport with her father. This is what the audience needs to watch; some harsh realities about efforts made for one passport. Ankush’s story was heartbreaking and one of the thousand stories in India whose fate keeps twisting even if he wants to leave his tragic past behind to become better. Jagdish’s backstory had a special sequence that rightfully addressed the audience about those who give up and try to commit suicide. He becomes the team’s goalkeeper.

There are a lot of plotholes in the film that indicates a rookie direction of Nagraj Manjule. I have no idea how the court allowed Vijay to give a five-minute speech and that too openly instead of sending him to the witness box. How come a team played a football match in the tournament without a goalkeeper before Jagdish asked to fill the place? How come a college agreed on a football match against the slum kids in the first place, and that too with the criminal backgrounds and drug consumption? 

Jhund is an inspiring film, and thanks to Aamir Khan‘s show Satyamev Jayate which introduced Vijay Barse and gave him the chance to narrate his story.

No doubt, Jhund is a fresh and exciting film that highlights so many social issues and encourages the audience to spare a thought and do something good or right for others. 

RATINGS: 7/10

Film Review: Thar (2022)

Inspector Surekha Singh (Anil Kapoor) is a veteran policeman who is posted in Munabao village of Rajasthan. He regrets that he never got a promotion in his line of work. In 1985, when he is closing toward retirement, he gets a case by chance when a psycho killer begins to haunt the village. Meanwhile, an antique dealer Siddharth (Harshvardhan Kapoor) arrives at this village for business and crosses paths with the police inspector.

Thar is an action-thriller directed by Raj Singh Chaudhary. By the style of filmmaking, it is quite obvious that the production methods are pretty much inspired by Western noir and therefore I felt very fresh by watching something different. I like when the director tries to do something different from the way the films are usually shot. Not exaggerating but when I watch this Western-inspired film that makes me think that if the Italian filmmakers can introduce Spaghetti Western subgenre, why not Bollywood introduce Curry Western? Sholay was inspired by the Spaghetti Western and I don’t remember a single that took inspiration from this subgenre after Sholay ignite this genre in 1975. So, Thar deserves its piece of appreciation.

Due to applying this subgenre, Thar reminds me of a few films like Sonchiriya and No Country For Old Men. With a very limited plotline, the screentime of around 110 minutes justifies and despite being slow-paced, doesn’t bore at all. Thar holds a strong command of technical brilliance. Adopting a Western demands excellence in cinematography and action sequences. This film qualifies both. I am amazed by the dramatizing of physical torture the film has depicted. And those tortured characters performed with really great intensity.

Costume and production design are far excellent too especially the latter. The production setting plays a significant role in presenting an accurate sketch of a shot the makers are willing to film especially in such cases and due to high standards, Thar looks very impressive.

The performances are average. Not that the actors didn’t perform well but the actors do not contribute much to the performances when the action is more in command. In many portions of the film, all you will watch is beating, killing, and car-chasing, so there is not much room to have plentiful scenes in the film where the actors have their time to dramatize their characters. And this is not their fault, the film is like that.

But I want this Harshvardhan Kapoor to pick films more often. In six years, this is only his fifth film. Of which one was a cameo and one was an anthological part of the whole film.  He is someone who picks the rhythm of the character too quickly and settles himself well. And he is a better talent than many new faces who belongs to a strong film fraternity.

There are a lot of films to be released as Bollywood is nearing towards halfway mark. But I sense that by the end of the year, Thar is going to be one of the best films of this year. If this film doesn’t get its deserving praise from the critics and the audience, not sure what filmgoers are really willing to get impressed with.

RATINGS: 8.6/10