Movie Preview : Khoobsurat (releases 19th September 2014)

A rom-com courtesy Disney Pictures and Anil Kapoor Films, this one might be interesting if it does not get too juvenile/cheesy/nausea-inducing. Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan star.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, Previews, romance | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Mardaani (2014)

mardaaniRating : Good (4/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2014
Running time : 1 hour 54 minutes
Director : Pradeep Sarkar
Cast : Rani Mukherjee, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anil George, Jishu Sengupta
Kidwise : PG-15

Shivani Shivaji Roy (Mukerji) is a senior police officer with the crime branch. She lives with her doctor husband (Sengupta) and her school-going niece. In search of Pyari, a missing child, Shivani stumbles onto a child sex trafficking ring. The child Pyaari has been abducted by this ring, but there are many more children affected. The ring runs deep and wide with friends in high places, and has strength enough to threaten Shivani’s life and family.

Shivani, of course, will not let go.

The film is fast-paced, with nary a boring moment. From the moment Shivani gets a hint of the actual ring, she is on the case, investigating, researching, and dredging up information to present to her seniors so she can get departmental support and action. Director Sarkar (of Parineeta, Laga Chunari Mein Daag fame) balances out Shivani’s work and home life, giving her a realistic personality and she comes across almost believably. I say almost, because as expected of Hindi films, the bravado and swagger are overdone, especially for a female cop.

This film has only one star – Rani Mukherjee. And that is enough because Rani carries the entire film very ably; a very fine performance indeed. Not that we expected any less. Her character is thankfully not made to sing and dance, so we tend to take her more seriously that the Chulbul Pandey types. Shivani is gutsy and fearless and doesn’t back down – a great role model.

As the film opens, we see her joshing with her fellow officers, cursing like a seasoned hand, yet asserting her authority. Some disbelief is natural, when in an initial scene she is shown slapping a trouble-maker without him trying to fight back. In the second half, Rani gets to do most of the stuff that Hindi film cop heroes are shown doing – chases through crowded streets, physical fighting – kicks and punches and good old dhishum-dhishum. And she does them well.

The bad guy in the film is played by Tahir Bhasin who does a remarkable job. And he was apparently in “One by Two”, although I don’t remember his character in that film. Bhasin’s character in Mardaani is a suave, educated, well-heeled English speaking drop-out from Hindu college. Cool, composed and unflinchingly vile, this man addresses Shivani with superficial decorum, but finds the chinks in her armor and targets them. Bhasin plays him with subtle menace.

There are many uncomfortable scenes in Mardaani, but they were probably necessary to emphasize the evil of trafficking. Towards the end, statistics about sex trafficking appear on screen. One of those, is that India is the hub of this crime.

Mardaani is an interesting watch. Now, I might be asking for the moon and the stars (but where would we be if we didn’t even ask?) but there could be improvements – like what if we had as a cop heroine, a female character akin to the soft-spoken yet competent Inspector Devrat Kulkarni of Talaash?

And of course, go watch this film.

Kidwise : I believe the censor board rates this an “A” film. And as I said above, there are some very hard to watch scenes in this film.  Some visuals might be disturbing for younger children.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, crime, rating-PG15, recommended | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Finding Fanny (releases 12th September)

Remember Being Cyrus? Director Adajania returns with Deepika-Arjun starrer Finding Fanny:

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Movie Preview : Mary Kom (releases 5th September 2014)

We’re seeing more and more films on legendary sports figures. There was “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, and now there is Mary Kom.

Posted in 2014, action, bio-pic, bollywood, drama, Previews, sports | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Kya Dilli Kya Lahore (2014)

Kya Dilli Kya Lahore Hindi DVD (Vijay Raaz,Manu Rishi,Vishwaj) (Bollywood/Film/2014 Movie)Rating : Average (3/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2014
Running time : 1 hour 38 minutes
Director : Vijay Raaz
Cast : Vijay Raaz, Manu Rishi, Raj Zutshi, Vishwajeet Pradhan
Kidwise : PG

I saw this film mostly because of the fact that Vijay Raaz had directed and acted in it. If you are unfamiliar with Raaz’s work, know that he is the impeccable actor we saw in Dedh Ishqiya, Delhi Belly etc. Although impeccable actors have been known to falter when it comes to direction, (like Naseeruddin Shah for example, who directed “Yun Hota to Kya Hota”) one always hopes for the best. Bollywood needs fresh, new talent after all.

KDKL is a war film about two soldiers from opposite sides of the border. There are just two main characters in this film – quite a rarity for a Hindi film. They appear on the screen most often. Other characters come and go, but these two remain.

Vijay Raaz plays Rehmat Ali, a soldier of the Pakistani army, pushed into going across the border to the Indian outpost to retrieve information about the supposed tunnels India has been building. Manu Rishi plays Samarth Pratap, the cook at the Indian outpost, left all by himself as the Indian soldiers are out at a skirmish. The film details out all that happens when the two come face to face.

First things first – this film is predictable. I knew what was going to happen when I read the little blurb for the film, and saw the trailer. The fruitlessness and the costs of war have been the subject of many a film. KDKL treads the same path, emphasizing the fact that underneath the animosity we are all the same people.

Raaz is marvelous as always. I was not too impressed with Manu Rishi; he appeared to be more of a blubbering idiot than I would have liked. Granted that Rishi’s character is just a humble cook in the Indian army, but he is still a soldier! While the Pakistani soldier, played by Raaz, plots and plans and is generally fearless, Rishi’s character, Samar, either seems to simply keel over in fright or dissolve into snotty, sniveling tears.

KDKL is interesting enough for the 98 minutes although there is precious little going on, action-wise. These are two lone men, in a godforsaken jungle, each taking potshots (both verbal and of the gun-powder variety) at each other. We are supposed to feel for them, and feel for them we do, although sparingly (Rishi’s incessant bawling seemed to drown out all other emotions – I’m not kidding).

This film was tepid. It left me largely unmoved. If you are tired of the other in-your-face masala Bollywood has to offer, and have nothing better to do, this slow-paced drama might be the thing.

Kidwise : Some violence, although not gory or explicit. The pace of the film and subject matter is probably only suited to older kids.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, drama, rating-PG, war | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Daawat-e-Ishq (5th September 2014)

Habib Faisal writes and directs another love story situated in Hyderabad. Am looking forward to this peppy Parineeti-Aditya Roy Kapur starrer:

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Movie Review : Ankhon Dekhi (2013)

Ankhon Dekhi (English Subtitled)Rating : Very Good (4.2/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2013
Running time : 1 hour 48 minutes
Director : Rajat Kapoor
Cast : Sanjay Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Pahwa, Taranjit Kaur, Namit Das, Maya Sarao
Kidwise : G

I first got a whiff of this film when director Rajat Kapoor (of “Mithya” fame) was casting around for funding for the film on twitter, and later when he would post updates of the shooting and production. Now the film has made it to Netflix, and a very worthy addition it is.

In this film, Raje Bauji (Sanjay Mishra) and his family live together in the Fatehpuri area of Delhi. This is a typically old Delhi, middle class joint family, because Bauji’s younger brother Rishi (Rajat Kapoor) and his family also live in the same house. The house is a set of small, tightly packed rooms with a central courtyard and a common kitchen and bathroom. All co-exist in relative peace; the expected carping and quibbling is ongoing but does not affect the family dynamic much.

What does affect it though is Bauji’s vow of absolute truth – of not believing anything not seen with one’s own eyes – hence the title “ankhon dekhi”. This personal realization comes to him suddenly after a certain unpleasant incident involving his much loved daughter Rita and Ajju (Das), the young man she wants to marry. Once Bauji has made up his mind to keep the vow, he goes about it with much vigor, and his keeping to the absolute truth has unpleasant repercussions on daily life. His long suffering wife is much annoyed, and friends and relatives declare him unsound of mind. But Bauji keeps at it.

This film then is Bauji’s journey through life, the ups and downs, the joys and the sorrows. The film is centered around him and his unique “aankhon dekhi” philosophy, but it also tells us about all the people around him. He tells us that life has been happy and pleasant, but has it been the same for the other members of his family?

There is his wife Amma (Seema Bhargav Pahwa, whom you might remember as “Badhki” from “Hum Log”), his son Manu and his daughter Rita (Sarao). Then there is his younger brother Rishi, his wife (played by Kaur) and his kids. There are also an assortment of relatives, friends and employers (one played by Saurabh Shukla). Each of their characters is finely sketched, and the film comes alive under the director’s skilled hands. The film’s story has perspicacity, the ability to look beyond characters – it lays each one’s life out on display to the viewer but does not judge – it leaves that to you. You might consider Bauji an inconsiderate fool who has stuck on to his unwieldy oath, or you might consider him an enlightened man, but that is quite up to you.

Sometimes you watch a film, and it seems pleasant enough and engrossing enough and you go on, swept up in its flow, only aware that it is a thing of grace and beauty. “Aankhon Dekhi” is that kind of film. It is not extra-ordinarily fast paced or bombastic. It moves leisurely through the many events taking it’s time telling us of the effect Bauji’s unique vow is having. But it is smooth, and seamless and engrossing, and it stays with you long after.

Quite gorgeous! Highly recommended.

Posted in 2013, All Netflix, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, Hindi movies on Netflix, outstanding, rating-G, recommended | 1 Comment