Tag Archives: Indian 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: Sarbjit (2016)

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Sarbjit is prominent for few reasons. One is that it presents you a very tragic story between the bitter threads of the two countries. Second is making Aishwarya Rai an actress and third is gifting us a treat to watch Randeep Hooda‘s another, in fact, his most unforgettable performance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ratings: 5/10

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Film Review: In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989)

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Creative, Perceptual and Supplemental to ‘Change’…

A well-derived project driving to a theory among the young generations for ages! a very ageless message with no casualty of emotional hullabaloo…

There was a TV film played on Doordarshan channel back in the late 80s, “In Which Annie Gives It Those One“. I honestly believe it undeniably is one of the (at least) twenty-five best feature films ever produced in India in any language. The film achieved cult status in those days but has been lost and forgotten. You will find and can watch the film on YouTube.

Before becoming an author, famous political activist Arundhati Roy used to work for TV and films. And she has the credit to write the screenplay of the film which is based on her personal experience as a student of architecture in the School of Planning and Architecture. The film was directed by her the-then husband, Pradip Krishen.

It is not a coming-of-age film but portrays a group life of architects and their projects in their final year of college in the 70s, hanging on a critical time under the concluded judgment of ‘Fail’ or ‘Pass’ from the judges of fate, when one young man dreams the impossible while his academic career suffers low. It shows a teacher-student relation and their complicated personal and architectural understanding.

Student bullies are no new surprise as well as funny moments between the roommates. I like the way most of the students have been distinguished in their manners and traits. Among the enrolled students is a foreigner from Uganda who makes noises when he dreams and his mates make fun that he dreams Idi Amin who killed his father. Then there is a granny girl with a pair of two ponytail who is very traditional and staid in nature and there is one who is keen on playing table-tennis. Then few are love birds which carry joint boiling hearts who have to think twice for smooching (Yes there are few kissing scenes).

Among all the students, it is the story of student Annie mostly focused on who daydreams a project to plant fruit trees on either side of railway tracks, where rural India defecates daily. Also, he sells eggs from the two hen he keeps in the room to earn sum. He is a repeated failure in the institute and in relation with Bijli, a cabaret dancer.

Roy herself plays the supporting role in the film as Radha who is a nonconformist student and lives with her boyfriend, Arjun. By her screenplay, she has described a rich amount of civil and institutional confrontations like a disagreement between her and the teacher on architectural thesis and the teacher rejecting many creative art models prepared by the students and closing their subconscious dreams. Also, her presentation in the final interview to the panel of judges is also very interesting one.

There is an urban and liberal wave in the whole film with a lot of western influence which was quite innovative in those days but the story based on a Delhi institute of 1974, it shows the students in those days used to accept free speech , open and liberal views. Quite a movement ran by the hippies in the 60s had changed much of the value of thinking and living which can be seen in the film, say a shed of light. More proof to common opinion in my theory is the students were listening and singing The Beatles.

 

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The whole film is mostly restricted to the rooms of the hostel and the classroom keeping it to the subject but what the most impressive aspect of the film is its heavy detailing. The direction reminds me my recent observation on directional works of François Truffaut who was a keen observer of the details related to the subject he shot. The classroom environment was lively and rigid, very true to reality like one particular ‘disturbed’ student coming late to the class, the students being juvenile and making awful sounds during the lecture, teacher smoking in front of students (quite rare in the films based on institute life) etc.

Room-renting is another interesting part in student’s social life and the director makes a good impression in displaying a heavily occupied small room where the projects are done, where the books become a pressure cooker, where a friend is helped to co-study with them and bring their girlfriends. If a viewer has a close look in the film, he/she will find very interesting graffiti everywhere (I like the graffiti of the toilet scenes). Then we have a couple of scenes of fantasy picking on Radha by street perverts and cheapskates.

The film involves impressive casting who later became popular names on TV and Hindi cinema. Besides Roy, the film stars Rituraj, Divya Seth, Deepika Deshpande and Himani Shivpuri. British actor Roshan Seth plays the principal of the institute. Raghubir Yadav and Shahrukh Khan (used to be TV actor before entering the film industry) have very short roles in the film.

The film is very poetic with the understanding that these students are the bright sunshine in the process of development and would like to theorize the word ‘Change’ and make their world a better place to live but the headmaster of the institute and all government appointees act as a hindrance. Seth’s principal character Y.D. Billimoria is named Yamdoot by these students. Yamdoot is Yama, an angel of death in Hindu mythology and even his character isn’t severely evil at all but sitting in the top chair and victimizing Annie for making fun of him despite begging/requesting numerous apologies makes him the culprit.

In Which Annie Gives It Those One was a remarkable TV project by Roy and Krishen, funded by Bobby Bedi‘s Kaleidoscope Entertainment. The film went on to win two National Awards for Best Feature Film in English and Best Screenplay. Despite the fact the overall performances were just average, it is a freshly baked story and brilliant filmmaking to avoid injustice. Not to declare underrated but it is easily one of the most famous ‘unwatched’ films in India.

Ratings: 8.4/10

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