Tag Archives: Sushant Singh Rajput

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

Movie Review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)

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Factory Siren | Bengal Freedom Movement | Japanese Gang War | Chinatown | Chemist | Paan Box | Opium | Detective | Newspaper | Ganges River

What if I tell you there is a fictional detective story which connects all the keywords mentioned above? What if I tell you that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! is one of the most well-equipped detective movie made in Bollywood? In 21st century, the other detective movie coming close to this was Sujoy Ghosh‘s Kahaani (please don’t say Tarkieb). But the reason why I love Dibakar Banerjee‘s movies is the depth and intensity of the script involving all the characters in tremendous harmony. And he has done it again.

Byomkesh Bakshi basically is a popular fictional detective figure in Bengali literature. The character was created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and he wrote 32 stories between 1932 and 1970.

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Dibakar introduced a highly impressive story sketching a war-torn Calcutta of the pre-independence in which Byomkesh takes the case of a lost man whose fate lies under an evil genius. Byomkesh is lost in the open secrets and discoveries but his skills and wits are his answer to every threat.

Being used to of watching many international detective programs, I found the outcome of movie very freshly baked in its genre. The reason is a diverse environment and acceptance of Bengali rich literature. A powerful story transformed and wonderfully presented by a better director.

Movie offers a quality of story-telling in a ridiculously fluctuated pace. When Byomkesh begins spying, movie goes slow. When Byomkesh investigates, movie goes fast. Between the tones, he pauses the viewers at some dramatic scenes to capture more attention.

With the seriousness of the script, there is unbelievably dark humor at some portions. Soundtracks are attractive and again fresh to your ears, you surely won’t expect some hard metal in 40s Calcutta. Soundtracks are equally balanced and compiled of Bengali, Hindi and English numbers.

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Performance is flying carpet where outstanding performances deserve huge compliment. Anand Tiwari as Byomkesh’s sidekick, Swastika Mukherjee as dancer and spy, Meiyang Chang as opium dealer are performers that cannot be ignored. Sushant Singh Rajput as detective Byomkesh was a decent pick but very challenging at the initial stage of his career. He is talented and I appreciate to take this challenge. Actors like Akshay Kumar, Ayushmann Khurana or Abhay Deol could have played this role very well.

The best among the performers was theater legend Neeraj Kabi as Dr.Guha who runs a male hostel. Reports are that Dibakar’s first pick was Aamir Khan for such a vital role but he rejected for Dhoom 3???

Overall this surely is one of the five best Hindi movies of the year for me.

Rating: 8.8/10

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Movie Review: Kai Po Che (2013)

Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara all buddy movies had one thing common. All were urbanized. Abhishek Kapoor, who himself directed ‘Rock On’, used Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘The 3 Mistakes of my Life’ as center-base and produced 3 middle-class Gujrati friends to mark a highly exceptional movie with an inspiring bond of friendship with a passage of time running with a limit. UTV Motion Pictures rocks again with ‘Kai Po Che’.

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First, what is ‘Kai Po Che’? This is a Gujrati phrase that ‘I have cut the kite’. There is the only kite cutting scene where a friend roars up the title name of movie otherwise the name itself doesn’t really justify with the story at all. 

The movie is set in Ahmadabad, Gujarat back in 2000. The core characters are 3 childhood friends; Govind, Omkar (Omi) and Ishaan (Ish).

  1. Govind is the smartest of all, educated and well wit in accounts and plans for a business venture of sports accessories.
  2. Ishaan is highly ambitious cricket lover who suffered his cricketing time due to politics but want to produce highly talented cricketers from different districts.
  3. Omkar is the middleman between the two who is a source of financing their dreams into reality.

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Omi is nephew of Hindu politician Bittu mama and convinces him for a loan to get a place to open the shop. They get a shop for a business and a ground behind to train cricket to young lads. Ishan finds a richly talented hitter in a Muslim boy, Ali, belonging to a father running his political party in their community’s interest and in rivalry of Bittu mama’s party.

As the business grows, they open one more shop in a commercial mall. Meanwhile, Ishaan convinces Govind to teach his sister, Vidya, maths as exams are close. The teacher-student fells in love but hide their relation.

2001 is the year of a massive tragedy of earthquake in Gujarat where they lose their newly acquired shop in commercial mall. Ishaan is so much in Ali’s family and his community that he helps them find their shelter after their heavy loss. Whereas Omi begins working in his mama’s party and dedicated fully on Hindu’s interests. Ishaan and Omi’s friendship hits on communal issues.

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The Gujarat elections begin and Omi goes busy in mama’s politics. Ali’s father surprisingly wins elections over Bittu’s party. During political campaign, Bittu sends kar sevaks to Ayodhya to Ram Mandir which includes Omi’s parents. Then news of Godhra Train Massacre hits all over Gujarat with a conspiracy that large no of Muslims burnt the train with all kar sevaks alive.

This news coveys a message of bloody riots to happen in Gujarat between Hindus and Muslims. The bond of Govind, Omi and Ishaan hiccups in 2002 Gujarat riots with Vidya’s love and Ali’s cricket in the cradle of justice.

The movie is a remarkable storytelling and pacefully directed by Abhishek. Raj Yadav is one acting name with a lot of talent who got popular movies like Love Sex and Dhoka, Gangs of Wasseypur 2 and Talaash in the beginning. With role of Govind, he do justice. Amit Sadh and Sushant Singh Rajput, both marks debut as Omi and Ishan respectively and comes surprisingly from soap operas. Amrita Puri  who was Sonam’s friend in ‘Aisha’ makes a good role as Ish’s sister and Govind’s love interest.

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All the cast justified their role but I will rate Sushant and Manav Kaul’s roles as Ishaan and Bittu high as both were brilliant. Stage actor is terrific with a balance of his justification with pros and cons. Songs are well picturised and background score is tuning. The novel-based movie is of no nonsense but widely realistic and acceptable e.g. Indian cricket kits used in 2000 or Ishaan’s own cricketing skills make you think if he really is a player but he got 4 months cricket training under 2 coaches to make his role perfect. All homes are real where the characters lived showing simplicity of Gujarat life.

Movie Status: One of best Hindi movies of 2013

Rating: 8.6/10