Movie Review : Uri – The Surgical Strike (2019)

Rating : 3.8/5
Genre : Drama/Action
Year : 2019
Running time : 2 hours 18 minutes
Director : Aditya Dhar
Cast : Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Kirti Kulhari, Rajit Kapoor
Kid rating : PG-13

The husband had mentioned that film-reviews he’d read weren’t exactly glowing in praise for Uri, so my expectations going in to the theater to see it were at best mediocre. The film surpassed my expectation by a whole lot. In short: I liked Uri – this is a good film.

The film is about the 2016 Uri Attack, an attack on Indian Security forces by 4 heavily-armed terrorists. Many were injured, and many were killed as they slept. The movie shows the attack and then shows India’s retaliatory surgical strike against terrorist base camps near the Line Of Control. Vicky Kaushal plays Major Vihaan Singh Shergill, who leads the mission.

Uri is a little slow-moving but told sparely, with very little over-the-top drama. There are some jingoistic dialogs but I can see that as a need to build up the patriotic fervor. I was especially impressed with the scenes of the actual operation as the commandoes move soundlessly and with very little fuss into enemy territory and accomplish their mission. Even the zing-zing of the bullets felt real. We have such few well-done war movies in Bollywood that Uri is a breath of fresh air.

The star of this film truly is Kaushal. If you’d asked me before who’d be the right choice for this role, Kaushal wouldn’t even have come to mind, but he does an amazing job! He’s a fabulous actor and fits into this role snug and sure. Gone is the scrawny hesitant lad of Masaan, and the arrogant rapper-DJ of Manmarziyaan! In Uri, a bulked up Kaushal takes center stage as a confident Army major, willing to do or die for this country. Of course, Kaushal also gets the meat of the film, complete with a climax ka hand-to-hand battle with the bad guy.

The supporting cast while good, could have benefited from better character development. Yami Gautam is an Intelligence Officer, but the role is sketchily developed. Kirti Kulhari is quietly dignified as an Air Force pilot – I would have loved to see more of her back-story. Swaroop Sampat plays Shergill’s Alzheimer-ridden mother and does it well. Rajit Kapoor (you might remember him from Raazi) as a soft-spoken PM, kind of like a weird amalgamation of PMs Modi and Manmohan Singh, and Paresh Rawal as National Security Advisor Govind Bharadwaj complete the round-up.

What I really like about Uri besides the action of course, is the fact that it focuses on the story, there is no needless romance thrust into the film (unlike Padman). There is no unnecessary naach-gaana or endless emotional drama about maa-ki-mamta and other Bollywoodian crap. Uri sticks to its business. It is spare and strong, slick and gritty, an engrossing watch. Go see!

Kidwise: This is an almost-war movie, so there’s violence and bloodshed and some bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat.

Posted in 2019, action, bollywood, directors, drama, real-life-based, recommended, war | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Manikarnika (releases 25th January, 2019)

Kangana Ranaut plays Manikarnika, Queen of Jhansi, and I cannot think of a better lead for this role. She looks magnificent! I hope the film is as good!

Posted in 2018, bio-pic, bollywood, drama, historical, New Films, Previews, real-life-based, women | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Simmba (2018)

Rating : 2/5
Genre : Drama/Action
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours 45 minutes
Director : Rohit Shetty
Cast : Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Ajay Devgun, Sonu Sood
Kid rating : PG-13

If you’ve watched the Trailer you wouldn’t be in any doubt that Simmba was going to be a masala movie, and not necessarily a bad one. I did like Singham, and hoped that this would be similar or better. However Simmba by comparison is so very, very OTT – it’s like kuch bhi! I’m dissapointed.

Anyway, formalities first, so here’s the gist : Sangram Bhalerao (aka Simmba) is a corrupt police officer who has only one objective – how to make the most of his job and line his pockets. However, when his muh-boli behen, a girl he considers to be his sister, is brutally raped, Simmba decides to alter course. Experienced officer Singham comes in to lend a hand.

Given that Simmba is a Rohit Shetty film, I had no expectations of any nuanced emotions. The characters are all either black or white, don’t think too much, make impetuous, illogical decisions and all emotion and drama is milked to the T. There are lots of colorful songs, gaana bajaana, with lavish sets, a ton of extras and our hero is resplendent slo-mo. It’s like Salman’s song sequences in Dabangg but even more OTT.

Simmba’s every move is stylized beautifully in slo-mo, from the time he makes his first appearance to when he really gets into it with the action scenes. Of course there could be no better hero than Ranveer to make the most of this, because he is such an entertainer. He hams with panache, dances with swagger, and delivers even the most inane dialogues with such aplomb that it is a pleasure to see him on screen. This is his film truly – he is in literally every frame.

Sara Ali Khan is the heroine and her role is more like a guest appearance. She is in like 5 scenes, relegated to the songs, and some romancing. Sonu Sood as the villain has a chunkier role than Khan. He does well too, flexing his massive biceps and spewing out cuss-laden lines with menace. Ajay Devgun makes a late (slo-mo) entry in the film, and there was actual clapping in my packed theater when he did!

If you are in the mood for a brainless, masala entertainer, Simmba is perfect. Me, I preferred Singham – Ranveer while entertaining is a little too flighty and frisky to be taken seriously, a problem brooding Ajay Devgun does not have. Consequentially Singham had more heft. Simmba also felt regressive, a step backwards in the direction of 80’s hindi potboilers, which hinged upon the macho male avenging the highly prized aurat-ki-izzat. Also, I’m put-off by the film’s oblique reference to the Nirbhaya rape; Nirbhaya’s injuries are not meant to be used as cheap plot-points/details in masala entertainers.

Kidwise : Suggestive dialogs and dance moves. While there is a rape in the film, nothing is actually shown.

Posted in 2018, action, bollywood, masala, rating-PG13, remake | 2 Comments

The Best Hindi Movies of 2018

Slim pickings this year, but I’ve managed to cobble together Bollywood’s Top 10 Movies of 2018. They are:

10. Blackmail

A quirky, suspenseful film about betrayals, infidelity and then some, Blackmail was interesting.

9. Raid

A predictable anti-corruption film starring the brooding, charismatic Ajay Devgun and the lovely Ileana D’Cruz, this one bottoms out at #9, because of its jaded, been-there-seen-that drama:

8. Karwaan

Fresh, fun and quirky, Karwaan could have used some star-power but leaves us with feel-good, warm, fuzzy emotions. This is very watchable at #8:

7. Raazi

Even though I wasn’t too gung-ho about Raazi immediately after watching it, now amid all the other films of the year, it seems to have done well for itself, settling in at #7 despite some problems. Alia and Vicky Kaushal were marvelous here.

6. Badhaai Ho

This well-done family drama was fun to watch because of the fantastic star-cast, and the in-built humor.

5. Sui Dhaga

A clean, pleasant slightly cliched film, Sui Dhaka comes in at #5 because of the lead pair and the great supporting cast.

4. Andhadhun

A who-dun-it featuring an unreliable, possibly lying, conniving hero, Andhadhun was so much fun and so very engrossing. Ayushmann Khurana stars again (he’s had a good year!).

3. Padman

This very important film delivers a social message and does it well. Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor star in this lovely tale.

2. Manmarziyaan

I loved Manmarziyaan. It was romantic, angsty, emotional – a real roller-coaster, but so beautifully wound its way into our hearts. Tapsee Pannu was gorgeous as was Viky Kaushal, and it was nice seeing Abhishek Bachchan again in a mature role that suited him to a T.

1. Mukkabaaz

As I said in the review, Mukkabaaz is Anurag Kashyap’s film-making at its finest. This was a stupendous film, in no small part because of hero Vineet Kumar Singh.

Posted in 2018, annual roundup, bollywood, lists, outstanding, recommended, Top 10 | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Zero (2018)

Rating : 2/5
Genre : Drama/Romance
Year : 2018
Running time : 2.5 hours
Director : Aanand L. Rai
Cast : Shahrukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Madhavan, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sheeba Chaddha
Kid rating : G

Now, as you all know – one must be very careful with and of Shahrukh Khan starrers, because he oozes Shahrukh-isms, which can result in a film being completely overshadowed with his persona. While Zero showed signs of this occurring I was swayed when I saw who the director was. None other than Aanand L. Rai, he of the too many As, and director of the very entertaining Tanu Weds Manu. So to the theater I went. But, alas, hai re meri kismat, this was not to be the film of my dreams!

Shahrukh is Bauua Singh, a bauna or dwarf, his height remaining at 4’6″. Bauua Singh, an unmarried man of 38, lives in Meerut with his rich parents (delightfully played by Sheeba Chaddha and Tigmanshu Dhulia). When he falls in love with scientist Aafia Yusufzai Bhinder (Sharma), and they proceed to the wedding mandap, all is going well until Bauua inexplicably runs away to participate in a dance competition. There he meets beautiful actress Babita Kumari (Kaif) and Aafia seems like a distant dream . . .

Zero started off well. Bauua Singh may be vertically challenged but he makes up for it in wit and charm. The first half of the film passed along very entertainingly watching Bauua’s antics. And this was mostly small-town drama – something director Rai excels at. Then came the unreal second half. The film’s plot-line took an unrealistic turn – as in, a complete break with reality. What was the script-writer smoking? Bauua Singh went from Meerut to America (that’s fine), to becoming the lone astronaut on a mission to Mars (what!). I can only describe it as absurd. Stupid. A steep flight of fancy I didn’t want to be on.

For all the soulful sighing and the angsty looks the actors gave each other, I could tell the director meant Zero to be some kinda big love story. It didn’t go there, not by far. If Aafia and Bauua were meant to go down the janam-janam-ka-saath route, they were sorely mismatched. While she was brimming with good-soulmate qualities, I failed to see the equivalent in Bauua, charm and wit aside. Bauua was a flighty loser, so why would any girl, or for that matter any audience be vested in seeing his life come to a satisfactory conclusion?

The actors did well. Sheeba Chaddha is a hoot, and Tigmanshu Dhulia is as a good an actor as he is a director (Haasil, Saheb Biwi or Gangster). Zeeshan Ayyub is fabulous here as Bauua’s steadfast friend Guddu, even though the character is sketchily defined. Shahrukh was Shahrukh, as in, he twitched his eyebrows. The gaana-bajaana was alright – nothing to right home to mummyji about. The visual effects – SRK as a dwarf were well done, although sometimes oddly, he seemed less like a dwarf and more a child sized miniature of himself.

Kidwise: Clean.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, directors, drama, humor, rating-G, romance | 2 Comments

Movie Preview : Simmba (releases 28th December 2018)

Simmba is Singham for Ranveer Singh fans. Or that’s what it seems like from the trailer. Should be fun though! Am looking forward to this full-on masala movie. Because, what else can it be with both Ranveer Singh and Rohit Shetty?

Posted in 2018, action, bollywood, crime, drama, masala, New Films, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Simmba (releases 28th December 2018)

Aankh Marey : Redux

Simmba, the upcoming Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan starrer redoes the original “Ankh Maaren” from the 1996 “Tere Mere Sapne”. What’s common in here besides the extras and the stylized steps? Arshad Warsi (Sehar, Lage Raho Munnabhai)!

The new Ankh Maare is a lot of fun – watching Ranveer Singh always is, and Sara Ali Khan is no wilting wallflower either.

Warsi played the lead in “Tere Mere Sapne” along with Simran.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, dance, music, New Films, remix | Comments Off on Aankh Marey : Redux

Movie Preview : Kedarnath (releases 7th December 2018)

Watching these two – Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput – on Big Boss, I thought the pair looked cute. I hope the movie is as cute!

I am curious to see whether this daughter of Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan has what it takes – she certainly seems peppy and pretty enough. Also, Abhishek Kapoor (Kai Po Che, Rock On) is the director, so I have high hopes for Kedarnath.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, directors, drama, New Films, Previews, romance | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Kedarnath (releases 7th December 2018)

Movie Review : Mitron (2018)

Rating : 2.5/5
Genre : Drama/Romance
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours
Director : Nitin Kakkar
Cast : Kritika Kamra, Jackky Bhagnani, Prateek Babbar, Suneel Sinha, Neeraj Sood
Kid rating : G

Mitron released the same time as Manmarziyan. It withered under the competition’s fierce genius, and soon made its way onto Amazon Prime, where the husband watched it and deemed it not too bad. Hence I watched it; normally it would never occur to me to watch a Jacky Bhagnani movie.

My prejudice is not without reason. To be a hero, one must possess either :

  • a)Looks
  • b)Acting skills
  • c)Attitude/swagger/personality.

Siddharth Malhotra (Kapoor & Sons) is a prime example of a).
Salman Khan (Dabangg) is the poster boy for c), while Rajkummar Rao (Shahid) succeeds because of b).

Bhagnani lacks all three, so his films are generally non-starters. I did watch “Youngistaan” where he played a young politician, and that role – the one of a mature, restrained man suited him way more than the role of a lazy loser that he plays in this film.

In Mitron, Jai is a carefree young man. He has an engineering degree, but not much motivation or career prospects. His parents therefore think he’s ready for matrimony (??), and he meets Avni. Avni has a mind of her own, so she declines to look upon Jai as suitable husband material. However their association doesn’t end there (much to our detriment).

This film fails because of many reasons, but here’s the chief one. Filmmakers must give the ladies (or everyone!) something to look forward to in a film. It seriously annoys me that while the heroines for the most part, are lovely and lissome, embody surreal yet fantastic character traits, and can act, producers think they can palm off just about anybody as a hero. Also the thinking that a lazy, out-of-shape lout with no redeeming characteristics is a “good” match for a lovely, intelligent young lady leaves me breathless with indignation.

Anyway, the point that I was coming to was this movie is not all bad – the heroine, Kritika Kamra is a find. The supporting cast is very good. The songs are pretty decent. The film also has some rather interesting segue ways, like when Jai and Avni recount their past love lives in a very reasonable manner – none of the hypocritical hai-tauba of double-standard-studded-desi-morality.

I can’t help but think that while I was philosophically repulsed by Mitron and that the predictability tanked the film, any other charismatic hero (like Abhay Deol, Ranbir Kapoor etc.) might have at least made it watchable. As is though, I can’t recommend it.

Kidwise: Clean.

Posted in 2018, Amazon Prime, bollywood, directors, drama, family-friendly, Hindi movies on Amazon Prime, rating-G, romance | Comments Off on Movie Review : Mitron (2018)

Movie Preview : Zero (release December 21st, 2018)

From Aanand L. Rai, who gave us lovely films like “Nil Battey Sannatta” and “Tanu Weds Manu”, come Zero. Shahrukh plays Baua, a dwarf, trying to find the one. Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma costar.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, directors, New Films, Previews, romance | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Zero (release December 21st, 2018)