Lifelong friends Amit, Om, and Javed decide to take a trek to the Everest Base Camp when their close friend Bhupen passes away.
Uunchai is an emotional drama and a journey towards a mark where travelers seek the meaning of life. Four old friends visibly in their late 60s and 70s meeting, parting, singing, dancing, and enjoying whatever is left in their life. Uunchai is about a burning desire that one has longed to fulfill for ages. Uunchai is about learning and tolerating from a generational gap. Uunchai is about holding hands, bringing back memories, and hugs. Uunchai is about climbing. Uunchai is about lost love.
The biggest plus of the film is the story. To my heavy surprise, Bollywood is very limited in basing its films on friendships. And here, Uunchai talks about old-age friendships. The audience deserves to get attention through thoughtful plots.
I refuse to believe that the film is directed by Sooraj R. Barjatya. His filmmaking aesthetics for Uunchai are completely different from what he presented to the audience in his previous films. Maybe someone else directed Uunchai under his name or maybe he has learned with time that if he has to survive and make successful films amongst the current crop of excellent directors, then he has to change the directional techniques. I say this because Bollywood history is full of disappointing comebacks.
With such an impressive plot and fabulous casting, Uunchai could have been one of the best films of 2022. But one negative factor declined this film from achieving that purpose – length! This film is almost a three-hour film. So what to blame when the length becomes the issue? Indeed, screenwriting! It was a simple plot but the screenplay was massively stretched on the journey to Everest and then on the climbing.
Technically, stretching on the climbing was acceptable because trekking to Mount Everest for their friend was actually the core of the story. It is their journey in the middle portion of the film that bought a lot of time. Lying to Javed’s wife, then taking her on the journey to be dropped at the daughter’s house. When things do not work then consider meeting Om’s family and then drop her. And then another arc of taking a lady during the journey who turns out to be Bhupen’s lost love, Mala.
To my calculation, all these developments took 50 minutes of the film. Not saying that Sooraj Barjatya should have avoided all this but he could have shortened this journey length. Let’s say 20 minutes instead of 50 and a few more minutes from the whole climbing part of the film. And then the film picturized a lot of songs. The film at stretch could have been a 120-minute film, absolutely not 170.
The second half had a lot of plotholes and raised a lot of questions. Why would the local villagers cross the bridge when they observe that the climbers are already struggling to cross it? How did the tour guide allow Amit to continue the journey after knowing what he suffers from? Amit is given oxygen when he collapses again. I was wondering, why was he not using it while trying to reach it in the first place.
UUNCHAI MUST HAVE BEEN NON-LINEAR
I think Uunchai should have been a non-linear film. The reason is that Sooraj Barjatya was firm to stretch on the friendship but the problem is that Bhupen’s character died within half an hour. So there was no growth in such a friendship quartet and at the time of Bhupen’s death, the real impact of sentiments fall flat. It would have been an extraordinary direction of film running with two different timelines concluding over Bhupen’s death in one parallel and throwing his ashes on the base camp in the other parallel.
Uunchai sustains Rajshri Productions‘ long hold on traditional and culturally influenced family values. Here, the film focused more on friendship. I think this film is for all ages and in the development of the continuity, it emotionally relates to us somehow. You can absolutely watch this along with your family.
In a world full of stories and incidents, things with you happen for a reason. Bhupen bought the tickets for trekking but died. His friends paid their final respect and went on an emotional and spiritual journey. And during this journey, until reaching that mark, they came across a lot of things in life that taught them a lot. Had Bhupen not died perhaps Amit would never happen to speak to his wife, Om would never consider a change in business nor would he ever realized how many grudges his relatives were holding for him, Javed and his wife would have never understood their daughter’s domestic situation, Amit would have never understood the value of his books, Mala would never get the second chance, and last of all Bhupen’s friends would have never realized his obsession with Mount Everest and the girl he loved the most.
So, friends, things happen for a reason.
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Maja Ma is about a Gujarati boy Tejas who is in love with Esha and wants to get married. During the parents’ meetup, a rumor sparks in society about Tejas’ mother Pallavi when she is exposed in the video admitting to her daughter Tara that she is a lesbian.
Maja Ma has a lot of social issues to work on. A typical middle-class Gujarati family marrying into NRI. Then Tejas’ sister, who is an activist for LGBTQIA+ rights. And then the mystery behind Tejas’ mother who is highly insecure and unable to decide if she must tell the world what she is. Three different elements in the same plot challenge writing and grows a lot of responsibility on the director’s shoulders. Sadly, Maja Ma collapses itself by staying in the bubble and not provoking the resistance.
Within half an hour to the start, Tara finds out that mom is lesbian, just before Esha and her parents are reaching India from the US. There was no buildup before the revelation so the reaction was flat.
Director Anand Tiwari didn’t bother to take risks at all. When Tejas’ family receives Esha’s at the airport, the director didn’t show how both parents interact. The biggest directional miss of the film was when Pallavi is exposed in the festival, the aftermath is skipped and then Pallavi is depicted to be on her bed with her family taking care of her. How can you not shoot the moments after she got exposed in front of society and Esha’s parents?
I am further surprised that the continuity didn’t even bother to reflect on the reaction of Pallavi’s husband Manohar. He looked quite normal.
I don’t know why but Esha and her parents’ American accents sounded to me pretty fake. And then Esha’s father using a lie detector on Pallavi was too far a stretch. How can a family marry their boy in a house where the girl’s father uses this machine on the boy’s mother? How come Tejas didn’t protest or oppose? How come the family didn’t take a stand against it? I can understand the girl’s father testing the boy but his parents? That is low.
Another miss was leaving the culprit behind who made the video viral. How did the culprit escape? How was the elephant in the room not addressed? So, Maja Ma suffers from careless writing.
The film had some good performances. Gajraj Rao continues his superb form and what impresses me about him is his body language hits the right tone. His style of communication is very natural. Srishti Shrivastava and Simone Singh in supporting roles are excellent though. The biggest plus was the heart of the film Madhuri Dixit. She proves again why is she such a phenomenal actress and one of the biggest legends of the cinema. Just look at her facial tone when Tara presses for a response. In fact, the mother/daughter arguments were intense.
Maja Ma wasted a life out of the story and couldn’t do justice to the points the film wanted to speak about. A mother/wife in a typical household turning out to be a lesbian is something we do not think of in the film. The film deserved a better script and needed to execute the project like that of ‘2 States‘.
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Lala and Sapna are childhood lovers but Lala is delaying getting married to her because he promised his dying mother that he will settle after marrying his four sisters into suitable homes.
Raksha Bandhan brings back the lost essence in Bollywood which is the traditional and family values. What made my mind to add Raksha Bandhan to my watchlist was the plot that highlights a very critical social problem which is marrying your daughters, and your sisters in the best possible families. A responsibility, the heaviest in weight and socially one of the significant scrutinies that hold the most critical center of attraction. This a much-needed storytelling in today’s Bollywood to bring awareness of how tough it is for a father or a brother particularly in middle and lower-class families to search for the most suitable man and give their girl to him.
Raksha Bandhan was released with Laal Singh Chaddha on the same date and both failed to make any impression. On ₹70 crores of the production budget, the film grossed only ₹52 crores at home. Was the film that bad? It surely was a disappointment but I think the reason for failure was more political than economic.
One of the good aspects of the writing is that the story didn’t waste time in showing Lala and Sapna falling in love and dancing on the streets with all the pedestrians joining them in dancing in Sri Lankan rain, Swiss snow, Egyptian pyramids, Piccadilly Circus, or Time Square. Because it was unnecessary and better focused on the central plot.
Despite the fact that the film’s intention to showcase the social problem is in the right direction, the directional value rotates back to entertainment and misses a large part to emphasize. Three of the four sisters have particular traits. One is manly, the other is dark-skinned, and another is fat. The latter two carry critical concerns as a girl being dark or fat brings more difficulty in making her case acceptable to the boy’s family than the boy’s. And both the issues of color and weight surprisingly don’t get stretchy content in the film.
The problem with Raksha Bandhan revolves around screenwriting. It is a comedy-drama but a very important issue slips the element of realism due to its being too entertaining. And needless songs and story arc of Lala-Sapna eat the screen length.
Director Aanand L. Rai has a habit of running the film on a high musical score that disturbs the momentum and triggers the seriousness of the sequence. In the most shocking moment of the film, the death in the family, is madly ruined by loud music in the background. This was a jaw-dropping scene because development occurred out of nowhere and here, Aanand Rai must have collapsed the tone instead of making it a melodrama.
Raksha Bandhan confuses and messes with the story development. Lala goes physical on the harassers when they whistle his sisters but doesn’t even lift his hand on the in-laws of his sister. Sisters really don’t have much to add to the screen time. They are mostly together with typical dialogues and backing their brother. A film that is fully based on them fails to give them their screen importance.
And then Bollywood’s biggest predicament, fatal conclusion. Yet again, the writer-director fails to finish the film on a high note. Outrageous final fifteen minutes! And the final scenes that were about how the sisters progressed later were what should have been a significant portion connecting the main plot in the first place.
WHY ARE OLD LEADING ACTRESSES NOT CONSIDERED?
Although Bhumi Pednekar fitted into the role and did her part well. But a kind of story that followed with Lala keeping his girl waiting to marry for almost a decade. I wondered if 55-year-old Akshay Kumar can play the part of an assumingly fifteen years younger man, then why not the leading actress in the same capacity can get her role? After all, the role of Bhumi was of someone who was waiting for years. So she definitely wasn’t playing the role of a girl in her 20s but older than that.
And this is where Bollywood is beyond my understanding. How come the actors in their 50s and 60s get to play the role of the man in his 30s and 40s but actresses of the same age bracket mostly get ignored to fill in a young actress? Why the heroines of the ’90s are heavily ignored in Bollywood?
I thoroughly enjoyed the comedy. After a long time, I watched a film that really had funny dialogue and that too without making it sleazy. The collective performances were impressive, particularly Neeraj Sood, he was fabulous. Impressive anger and comic timing. Observe his performance when he humiliates Lala after his sister’s wedding.
The biggest plus of the film, the only reason for which I can easily recommend you to watch is Akshay Kumar. After so many years, I have watched that hilariously troubled Akshay Kumar of the old times making me laugh. And not just his comedy, this was an incredible performance.
Just watch him when he gets the news of his sister’s wedding. His reaction and the entire walk of honor, pride, and joy. And then when he gets the shocking news that makes him leave the house and cries in the first fifteen seconds of running on the streets. And then the scene after the funeral after he opens the shop and goes mad. Raksha Bandhan is definitely Akshay Kumar’s best performance since Pad Man and one of the best of his career.
Raksha Bandhan is a missed opportunity that couldn’t do justice to a social message due to bad writing and unimpressive aesthetics. The film relied on Akshay Kumar instead of a promising plot. It is a one-timer but a blessing for the eyes of Akshay Kumar fans.
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Laal Singh Chaddha narrates his incredible story on the train to the nearby passengers as he travels to meet the love of his life.
Laal Singh Chaddha is the official adaptation of the Oscar-winning film ‘Forrest Gump‘ with Aamir Khan returning to the silver screen after a gap of four years to play the Indian version of Tom Hanks‘ most memorable and one of Hollywood’s iconic roles ever.
So obviously, considering what ‘Forrest Gump’ means to the audience and the reputation it has built for decades being the darling of the global audience, there was immense pressure on Aamir Khan and the crew to put on a show that gives at least half-decent remake of the original classic. Most regrettably, Laal Singh Chaddha stands nowhere close to an average crafted film, forget about being a remake.
It is a classic disaster thanks to Aamir Khan that the mighty collapses right from the beginning when he opens his mouth to speak to the passenger on the train. It is no surprise that the center of satisfaction from the film rests on Aamir Khan’s shoulders. What surprises me is the actor, Mr. Perfectionist, who is well-known for his original takes on some interesting characters he has played throughout his career, is attempting to imitate Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump instead of bringing his own method. And in this process, Aamir Khan is neither convincing the audience nor appealing. And this is one of the major reasons for the film’s box-office failure.
When you listen to his Punjabi accent, it clearly sounds that something is not right. Aamir is certainly not the right choice for a Punjabi character and that was visible in Rang de Basanti. And then the younger version of Laal that he acted, it was like watching Aamir in ‘3 Idiots‘ and ‘PK‘. Same facial expressions and performance. And it is disappointing that an actor known for perfectly adjusting himself to the character has given identical performances in not one but three different films. In the younger version, he looked more mentally unstable than he was as a child. Extreme overacting.
WRITING NEXT TO NONSENSE!
The entire continuity questions the credibility of the screenwriting which is second to nonsense. Spreading humor in a drama for average entertainment is acceptable if executed well. But here, I feel as if the director was confused about how to justify the remake and connect the dots. First, he ridiculed India’s historic timeline to settle Laal’s stupendous journey to legacy. Second, he overstretched the plot and suffocated the audience in an awful second half. And third, the entire film looks like a Google translation.
Laal’s childhood highlights India’s state of Emergency under former PM Indira Gandhi, India’s World Cup winning moment occurs minutes later, and then the Anti-Sikh riots in Amritsar. If you have watched the film with active brains, you will realize that these three incidents occurred in different years. The emergency event happened in the mid-70s, India won the World Cup in 1983 and the riots occurred the next year. So how is the young boy Laal Singh Chaddha not growing for approximately eight to nine years? Or if the director is depicting that all three events happened one after the other which is more silly. In both cases, there is a big hole in the writing.
I must mention the supporting character of Bala played by Naga Chaitanya in his Hindi debut. It must have to be the most annoying character of 2022 or maybe of recent years. Playing the original role of Bubba from Forrest Gump, it was sickening to watch him repeat his passion for undergarments and remake scene-to-scene from the original source.
When you remake an original source, the writing demands a re-introduction on a whole new level of presentation expecting that the writer will come up with a thoughtful story adapting from the original idea. But here, Laal Singh Chaddha shows no intention to play a different beat. Besides adjusting Laal’s life story with the Indian side of historical moments, almost every plot development, almost every scene is straight from ‘Forrest Gump’. And this is one of the reasons why the audience disliked the film. The writer made absolutely no effort in coming up with their own idea to revise the whole plot.
WHAT A MISS!
In order to settle Laal’s life story with some historic moments, the film shows how the local boy of Delhi become a megastar in Bollywood with Shah Rukh Khan playing his own role. It was funny that his iconic arms-stretched-out pose was joked to be inspired by Laal. But what I want to complain about is a big miss. Amongst the three major Khans, the two who have never shared the screen as the lead or starred in the same film are Shah Rukh and Aamir. Salman Khan has starred with both of them in the past. And Shah Rukh and Aamir shared the screen for a few seconds in a cameo in Ashutosh Gowariker‘s “Pehla Nasha“. Despite the fact that Aamir Khan is the producer of this film and roped in Shah Rukh to play a cameo, they still didn’t share the same screen. How idiotic! What a miss!
Yes, ironically there are a few pluses like Satyajit Pande‘s cinematography and Tanuj Tiku‘s background score. A couple of tracks were good too. The makers raised the issue of domestic abuse well. But the biggest plus of the film that impressed me was Mona Singh who played Laal Singh Chaddha’s mother. She was impressive throughout the film. Watch her, particularly in the scene of the riots.
So Laal Singh Chaddha has all the reasons to terribly fail at the box office and disappoint the audience. This has to be Aamir Khan’s worst performance in ages. He needs to become choosy again about the selection of his films because his recent run has been awful. Those who have never watched Forrest Gump can enjoy this translated version.
Was Laal Singh Chaddha that bad to be rejected in India? I don’t think so. We have watched worse Indian films than Laal Singh Chaddha. Then what happened?
I feel there was a particular hate campaign by the Hindu nationalists of the ruling party on a large scale that played its part. Back in 2015, Aamir Khan expressed his insecurity about living in India in one interview. That circulated before the film’s release.
The ruling party pushed its supporters to share more than 200,000 tweets demanding to boycott film with the hashtag ‘Boycott Laal Singh Chaddha’. That flamed severe hatred and due to this reason, Laal Singh Chaddha earned only ₹58.73 crore in India against a production budget of ₹180 crore.
S. Hussain Zaidi is a former crime reporter, investigative journalist, and novelist whose books based on Mumbai crime became bestsellers. His in-depth extensive research on the Mumbai underworld set a platform for the Bollywood industry and international authors.
Dongri to Dubai is a complete chronicle of the Mumbai mafia. It took six years of research, compilation, verification, and writing the entire material that Zaidi gathered and shaped into a book.
Dongri to Dubai is a favor to all the historophiles who are enthusiastic to go deep in thinking and questioning the origins of the crime that shaped the most powerful syndicate in Mumbai for decades. It is a treasure that the hunters were in quest of while wandering on the mysterious island.
Mumbai and to some extent Karachi are historically the South Asian New Yorks that cultivate a lot of communal and regional backgrounds due to immigration. Dongri to Dubai educated me a lot about the criminal history of Mumbai. It is unusual and geographically diverse.
Decades ago, the Mumbai mafia was ruled by three powerful dons and none of them were Marathis. Two of them were Tamilar and the other was a Pathan, all immigrants.
One arrived in Mumbai with his father from Panankulum when he was eight years old. He worked in a cycle repair shop and earned 5 rupees a day for 12 years. And then worked as a coolie at the dock for three years. Met an Arab sheikh, began smuggling for him, proved his loyalty, became his partner, and during this progress, ruled the South West Mumbai – Mastan Mirza (also known as Haji Mastan).
The other came from Vellore where he was an errand boy at a photography studio when he was seven. In Mumbai, he also started as coolie but at a railway station. There he connected with people who were involved in the liquor trade. His progress in the liquor mafia rose to the emergence and soon became the don of Central Mumbai – Sathuvachari Varadarajan Mudaliar (also known as Varda Bhai and Kala Babu).
And the Pathan came from Peshawar when he was in his mid-twenties. He first started his gambling den. Then he became a moneylender. A Kabuliwallah standing almost 7 feet tall! He became a haunting figure in kicking people out of their residences. Abdul Karim Khan (also known as Karim Lala).
Although Zaidi writes about many dons and gangsters but ‘Dongri to Dubai’ centrally focuses on the one who outsmarted all the previous dons in the city – Dawood Ibrahim.
I liked the idea of introducing the central character after eight chapters. Zaidi settled the readers to understand the origins of Mumbai crimes and their big daddies before making us read the story of the Godfather.
I wholeheartedly appreciate the effort Zaidi made in the entire research that gave the readers an idea about how the city suffered bloodshed, violence, and heinous crimes when Dawood emerged as the new don. It was as if I wasn’t reading about Don but the script of a film where the leading actor is a don as well as an antihero. Son of an honest policeman, a close friend of a journalist, the failure of his first love affair, a brother brutally murdered by his enemies, a cop assisting him to outdo his rivals, etc.
One of the most captivating aspects of reading this book is the wild enmity between the Pathans of Karim Lala and the Kaskar brothers led by Dawood. It was intense and they were bloodthirsty to dominate each other. Almost half of the book is about this saga. And the continuity is so intriguing that the reader cannot discontinue reading at all. The research of the author indicates that Karim Lala’s goons were bigger trouble than the Kaskars.
I have watched Hindi films all my life and observing the stories of the film centralized on crime action thrillers, I always wondered why this was usually a norm to cash the audience’s money besides romance. If you travel back to the 1950s when that Bollywood phase was considered the golden age, rarely did a film based on crime and action developed for the audience. The crime-action thrillers began to make rounds in the 1960s and more prominently from the 1970s, a trend that shaped the entire existence of the industry.
Almost every single don’s origin story followed by interesting minor and major events reminds me of old Bollywood action films of the 1970s and 80s. How much were the directors obsessed with and influenced to make the films for the audience to tell their stories? Thanks to this book that makes me realize that Dilip Kumar–Amitabh Bachchan starrer Shakti is pretty much about Dawood Ibrahim and his father Ibrahim Kaskar who was an honest cop but the former chose the bad side.
The partnership of Inspector Ranbeer Likha and Dawood Ibrahim reminds me of Zanjeer but Pran’s iconic role of Sher Khan was more of Karim Lala. In my further cognizance after reading this book, Aamir Khan’s Ghulam may not have come to anyone’s radar but I think that too was based on Dawood. His brother was killed like Dawood’s own and Sharat Saxena’s villainous muscle character of Ronak Singh was definitely based on Baashu Dada, the wrestler and goon of the Teli Mohalla neighborhood. Ghulam concluded with Ronak badly beaten by Siddhu and running away in humiliation exactly like Dawood and his boys beat Baashu and his gang and made them run away as described in the book.
The book is divided into two halves. The first half has 35 chapters and the next has 28. The author emphasizes in the latter that Dawood was helped by ISI and Pakistan government in the 1993 Serial Bombings as an act of Muslim revenge on the Hindus demolishing the historic Babri Mosque. Not only did the author connect the dots but he even wrote about his running mafia while living in Karachi after a few years of residing in Dubai. The book also presses that Chota Shakeel and Iqbal Memon were in Karachi with Dawood when they were searching for Chota Rajan around the world.
MY FAVORITE MOMENTS/HIGHLIGHTS IN THE BOOK
There are dozens of moments where Zaidi’s description made me WOW. I will just drop ten unranked moments from the book that are still sharp in my mind.
Meeting of two Tamil dons at the police station.
Dawood and his gang beating Baashu Dada and his pehelwans.
Killing of Iqbal Natiq.
Khaled Pehelwan’s brutality on Ayyub Lala and Saeed Batla.
The rivalry between Ibrahim Dada and Bada Johnny.
Chota Rajan escaping death in Bangkok.
Shootout at Lokhandwala.
Shabir Ibrahim’s murder.
Gulshan Kumar’s murder.
Assembling of all rival gangsters at Haji Mastan’s residence.
There is a lot to write about the book and I know the details that I am still missing. But to review this book needs its own book or a documentary. Because the ‘Dongri to Dubai’ saga is written in almost 400 pages and details dozens of stories and I cannot touch each of these in my review.
The book heavily condemns the failures of the police, the court, and the government. But also describe their efforts to somehow control the crime rate. It was important to inform the readers that if the police failed on some occasions, then the police also played their part in their war against the mafia.
‘Dongri to Dubai’ successfully declares that Dawood indeed is the biggest don of the city. He is irreplaceable due to the social and cultural impact he has set. Readers who are enthusiastic about reading a criminal history of a certain geographic area should read this. Especially if the reader is a hardcore fan of Bollywood films of all ages.
Now the most complicated argument for a Pakistani reader of ‘Dongri to Dubai’. Where is Dawood? Is he really in Pakistan if not Dubai? Did ISI or the Pakistani government really play their part by partnering with Dawood? It all sounds above the clouds to me.
Several years ago, I tried to read this book twice. First, I read a few chapters but the workload halted my reading progress. Second, I finished almost half of the book and got to know that Dawood is expected to settle in Pakistan. I didn’t make up my mind to read further because, at that time, I felt that the book might turn out to be a fake narration to convince the theory that Dawood is in Karachi and somehow the Pakistan military or the government is involved.
On my third attempt, I finished reading it. And I must admit that a book about the Mumbai underworld requires bullet detailing, a strong narrative, and perspective. And ‘Dongri to Dubai’ is a profitable outcome in the name of research about the criminal history of the city.
From a constable catching some Pathan robbers after the money heist in 1947 to Dawood Ibrahim showing up in Forbes ‘Most Powerful People’ in 2009, Zaidi has covered plenty of crime sagas in almost 400 pages.
See, I have no knowledge about Pakistani terrorism on India’s land and vice versa. There is no peace in fighting wars. A lot of theories can be developed in the historic rivalry between the two countries. But as far as Dawood’s whereabouts are concerned, yes there is a possibility that he may be in Karachi or in any other remote area hiding somewhere or living openly and lavishly. Why not? If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, and Osama Bin Laden can be found in Pakistan, then why cannot Dawood Ibrahim?
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While Delhi builts scattered turbulence across the city, Jogi and his friends tries to liberate many Sikhs after Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated.
Jogi is a survival-thriller period film based on the horrible three days after the assassination, a tragic event that is now called “1984 anti-Sikh riots“. A film based on a highly sensitive topic and haunting political unrest, the dramatization of riots does have that gripping intensity but what avoids the film to be considered amongst the best period films of recent times is the lack of quality screenwriting.
The aesthetics are too Bollywood-scopic. Dubious writing, overhauled musical score, predictable continuity, and an extremely weak setting for the conclusion. Lali is obsessed with hating Jogi to kill him but not makes his chances when he had. Looks silly to gaze at him near his sister’s dead boy but not shoot him considering to be responsible for her death. With long hair and a beard, how was Jogi not suspected of his being a Sikh at the station and the warehouse, is quite surprising. Especially, when he requested a bottle of milk, how come no one raised eyebrows? Why would anyone ask for milk in a warehouse of weapons and kerosene oil?
The most awful writing of the film; is an MLA personally arriving to kill Jogi and the rest. Why would he drop his hands in the dirt? Why would he risk his position? Anyone in their right state of mind will order someone to get his hands dirty for them.
Diljit Dosanjh as Jogi gives a fabulous performance and carries not only the Sikhs but also the film on his shoulder. Why was Ali Abbas Zafar chosen as the director for this film? How can you expect a quality outcome from someone who directs Salman Khan films? If I was the producer of Jogi, I would have chosen Konkona Sen Sharma, Hansal Mehta, or Devashish Makhija. Jogi lacks that narrative crafting that compels and boils the blood to watch the riots.
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Inspector Vikram Jaysingh is one of the most intelligent and stern officers of HIT (Homicide Intervention Team). But he suffers from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) due to a tragic past that haunts him particularly when he sees fire. He doesn’t take pills because he thinks that the pills will weaken his performance. Vikram gets more frustrated when his girlfriend and colleague Neha go missing. This leads to Vikram taking one more case when another girl gets missing the same way as Neha.
HIT: The First Case is the Telugu remake of Sailesh Kolanu‘s film with the same title that he made in 2020. And it is Kolanu who has written and directed this too. The one thing that you have to make sure of is that a suspense-thriller must never fall short of intensity and attract the audience with groovy developments. HIT has these qualities.
The screenplay of HIT runs pretty fast. It is a commitment to not wasting time in principle shots of sequence developments. I sense the editors had a tough time setting the tone of the film with scene arrangements. But due to sharp cuts in editing, the dialogues in the film didn’t do justice and looked pretty disjointed.
There were some moments that didn’t look right at all. Why did the senior officer give Neha’s case to Akshay when he clearly knew that Akshay and Vikram hold strong grudges and hate each other? He could have handed the case to anyone. When the dead body is exhumed, Vikram begins to suffer PTSD and when he returns, the forensic team is taking the dead body. The forensics do not complete the proceedings that quickly.
How come an officer suffering from PTSD is handling not one but two cases? I have no knowledge of how mentally a cop has to be fit to handle the case despite PTSD.
Rajkummar Rao was fabulous in playing a cop of such a complicated mental character but there was something wrong with his tone. It was very monotonous. Sanya Malhotra didn’t have much to roll on the screentime as she disappeared for a long.
HIT: The First Case is an exciting start with the conclusion of the first case in a very interesting suspense. It was unlikely to make a wild guess who would it be. And now the film is heading towards the second case. The Telugu sequel has been released last month. The genre of the film served its purpose and that is what is important. Surely recommended to all of you who are fond of watching suspense thrillers.
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After an emotionally struggling phase of her younghood and being under the shadow of her mother Urmila Manjushree a celebrated thumri singer, Qala Manjushree is now an established singer. But with the rise of fame comes unprecedented pressure from the media and Qala tries to cope which begins to deteriorate her health.
Qala is a period film set in Calcutta in the pre-independence era of the 1930s or maybe 1940s. And when it comes to period films of the golden age, the bygone era, there are two departments that become more responsible for enhancing all the technicalities and the aesthetics of filmmaking. That is the designing of costumes and the production.
It is hard for me to describe in the most perfect sense but both aspects of Qala are electrifying and give rich vibes of the earliest decades of Indian filmmaking artistry. A meticulous effort to present the old age that disconnects you from the present era. Gives you the same vibe as if you are in the music video of Khamaj and Shyam Benegal‘s Bhumika, or Guru Dutt‘s Kaaghaz Ke Phool.
The angle of feminism clicked in the screenwriting. I liked this arc of Qala questioning the precise questions and receiving no genuine response. In a universally male-dominated industry, only a woman can describe how difficult it is to make a place in any department in the film industry and what she has to suffer mentally and physically.
Speaking of physical suffering, there is a scene that perhaps never happened before and may have triggered us to question ourselves. After Qala fails to sing the right notes, the music director takes her out and forces her to give oral sex. Minutes later, Qala returns and sings correctly.
It may look like an awful sequence but highlights countless behind-the-door horrors inflicted on women. At the same time, the question that triggered me was how did she sing so well minutes after swallowing semen? Does the vocal chord of the singer not affect or harm after that? I actually had to research on the internet and found out that it doesn’t unless there is a transmissible disease.
LANGUAGE AND PERFORMANCES
The Urdu language was the treasure of classic Bollywood. But here, there is a visible error in language proficiency when actors speak dialogues. I will limit my criticism by implying that the film is set in Calcutta but not Bombay. So perhaps this is how Bengalis spoke Urdu in those times.
The performances are not up to the bar where the period film can be judged with more splendidness. Perhaps it was challenging to perform in a different setting than the norm for the actors. You need actors who can fit in the language and justify the aesthetics otherwise they will end up like Suniel Shetty in Umrao Jaan. Happy to see the debut of Irrfan Khan‘s son Babil Khan. Amit Sial and Swastika Mukherjee were average.
Tripti Dimri as Qala, I don’t know why she reminded me of Sonam Kapoor in her earlier films. There was so much grace and beauty in Qala but her mental performance was bleak. She visibly struggled to collapse her settled persona.
Qala’s music is the signature and authentic reminder of the good old times of the melody. Amit Trivedi knows what to offer in a different setting and he is familiar with this. His music was fabulous for Bombay Velvet and not to forget Lootera‘s number ‘Sawaar Loon‘. This time it is more distinctive and time traveling to listen to the notes, the lyrics, and vocabulary. The music sets the mood and drops you to feel more about those times.
I want to specially mention this singer, Sireesha Bhagavatula; I don’t remember if I listened to her before. But here, her songs particularly the best track of the film ‘Ghodey Pe Sawaar‘ reminded me so much of Geeta Dutt‘s voice and her melodious songs of the 1950s. Qala’s music definitely is one of the best music albums of the year.
Anvita Dutt has usually been a lyricist all these years. But her ass on the director’s chair has opened the gates for period films in better crafting and finesse. She is really fond of the classical era. Her directional debut was Bulbbul which was beautifully set in the Bengal presidency of the 1880s.
Qala compels the audience to fascinate with striking visuals and lush cinematography.
Qala is the tale of the struggle for acceptance but jeopardizing it with jealousy. A girl who lost her male twin at birth, failed to convince her mother about successfully passing the legacy in the house of music, and later on being rejected by her. The events occurring in the second age of the film industry.
Qala is a reminder of unwanted rivalry when a professional begins to believe there is a competitor who will replace you and the general audience will accept your competitor and forget you that will distraught you. I wonder what reminds me of this? Yes. Black Swan.
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Johnny is promoted to the board of directors on the occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary. But the event turns out to be a curse as a series of murders of the company’s employees begins to shake the company and Johnny’s position is jeopardized.
The first hour is too itchy to the comical aesthetics as the development of the story doesn’t really settle that much. I felt the film tried to be way too funny. The direction wasn’t compelling to tone the real feel of the sudden crime scenes that should have depressed the whole foundation of the company. Maybe dark humor would have suited the script.
I really took a shine to observe some classic references. When Monica waits on the street, the motel behind her is named ‘Bates Motel‘. Hitchcock fans know where this comes from. When Johnny’s sister calls to him, the board behind her mentions the names of many famous filmmakers. Johnny’s fiancee Nikki talks about her cousin and clearly says the words ‘My Cousin Vinny‘ which is a famous film starring Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci.
Director Vasan Bala thanked Sriram Raghavan at the beginning of the film. And if you notice, there are moments of Raghavan references too. Rajkummar’s character is Johnny and Johnny Gaddaar is one of his most memorable films. When Johnny faces the cobra, Johnny Gaddar is played on television. The name of the bank from where ACP Naidu comes out is called ‘Bank of Badlapur‘. A Bollywood film giving interesting easter eggs deserves compliments.
Although the musical score went stereotypical in giving tribute to the 1970s and have listened to that score countless times. But I must praise the song compositions that were tuned to that era and didn’t look fake. And the selection of singers who mimicked the old timers so accurately. For a moment, I actually thought if Asha Bhosle was singing Bye Bye Adios. My favorite track was ‘Farsh Pe Khade’ because that track reminded me of Hemant Kumar‘s voice and Shankar Jaikishan‘s music. And Hemant Kumar is my favorite Bollywood singer so that touched me.
Although, the musical score and songs were all tribute to that era and excellently done by Achint Thakkar. But I gave a thought if composing generational songs is so likely to happen with quite an authenticity, why cannot the musicians tune in and make such music more often?
I felt a murder mystery with dark humor could have been more compelling than what I watched in Monica, O My Darling. Someone like Sriram Raghavan, Abhinay Deo, or Abhishek Chaubey would have executed this story superbly.
A talented casting of Rajkummar Rao, Huma Qureshi, and Radhika Apte was all fair in their roles. Monica, O My Darling is a fiction that serves its purpose of presenting a comedy thriller in a different way.
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Tara has just won her first case as a lawyer and parties with her boyfriend. The next morning, she learns that her mother Gayatri has passed away.
Goodbye is about the Bhallas from Chandigarh where Gayatri was the heart of the house. Tara had a rigid relationship with her father Harish. Gayatri has also left three sons behind. Karan is the eldest arriving from Los Angeles with his wife. Nakul is a climber and has no knowledge about his mother’s demise because he is climbing. And Angad was adopted and is arriving from Dubai.
Goodbye is a different storytelling where the major character has already passed away and the film focuses on the funeral proceedings and the assembling of a dysfunctional family. There have been several films that picturized how the death of a major character unites a family.
After an ordinary start with a party song, the film lived up to its screen business in the first hour centered around struggling to complete Gayatri’s cremation. In this first half, the social satire was excellent. The exaggeration of believing in superstitions and old beliefs, and the attendees creaming their concerns and being too materialistic shaded some ugliness of the norms.
The second half had its moments, mostly sentimental, but it visibly struggled to maintain the tone of excellence that was set in the first half. There was nothing much to talk about, and most of the developments in this half were flat and poorly written. I mean that impact in writing was missing. Just for example, when Nakul returns and still has no idea what has happened. A strange vibe naturally builds that demands a capricious look with meticulous writing of emotions in such an awakening. The whole scene of revelation gives zero impact and the actor who plays Nakul does no justice to surpass that emotional collapse.
The performances were flat. Rashmika Mandanna in her Hindi debut playing the central character of Tara clearly looked struggling. The actors who played the three sons did no favor. Neena Gupta as Gayatri couldn’t give much to our delight due to extremely limited screentime. Poor Amitabh Bachchan as the patriarch has to carry the film on his old shoulders.
Over usage of the musical score also messed up the development. Played way too many songs that could have been easily ignored. Due to a limited development with no arcs in the story, the screen time of 140 minutes made it a slow cut with a depressive tone. The film stretched too long to cry for the deceased, for the beloved.
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