Movie Review : Badlapur (2015)

Rating : Good (3.8/5)
Genre : Thriller
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 14 minutes
Director : Sriram Raghavan
Cast : Varun Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kumud Mishra, Vinay Pathak, Yami Gautam, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte, Divya Dutta

Badlapur Hindi Audio CD(Bollywood/Film/Songs)

In Badlapur, Dhawan plays Raghav, a man with a small happy family – a wife (Gautam) and a little son. A sudden random crime wrenches away that happiness. Badlapur then shows us how Raghav deals with this tragedy and his need to extract revenge from the perpetrators.

If you’ve seen the trailer, you know that the film gets pretty gory. Given that this was a Sriram Raghavan film, I was pretty sure that this thriller would be worth the watch. And I wasn’t wrong. Like his other films, Badlapur has a pretty strong screenplay, and the film flows smoothly. The action is spare and taut. The characters, even the minor ones, are layered and nuanced with little flecks of back-story and emotion, and that takes this film to a whole new level. The film builds up pretty well, although I was not wholly convinced by the unpredictable ending – it got a little too glib and filmy for me.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the small-time psychopathic criminal Liak is fabulous – but then that was expected. The big surprise here is Dhawan, for whom this is quite a departure since he’s done run-of-the-mill lover-boy roles up till now. As Raghav, Dhawan portrays a man who loses it after the tragedy. When the time comes, Raghav, deadened by grief, shows no compunction or mercy. I’m quite impressed by Dhawan’s acting here because not only does he bring intensity and simmering rage to his portrayal, but he also depicts Raghav with the cold calm demeanor of one who has nothing more to lose. He makes the portrayal stick.

Badlapur also benefits from having other wonderful actors in smaller roles. There’s Vinay Pathak as Harman, Liak’s partner in crime. Huma Qureshi is Jhimli, Liak’s prostitute girlfriend, and Divya Dutta is Shobha, a social worker. There’s Pratima Kazmi as Liak’s mother, Kumud Mishra (who was also in Rockstar) as the sharp-eyed Inspector, and Radhika Apte (you saw her in Shor In The City) as Harman’s wife. Then there are the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them roles, and even for these, stalwarts like Ashwini Khalsekhar and Zakir Hussain have been roped in.

Badlapur is not your average Bollywood fun flick. The hero doesn’t quite fit the cliched mould, and the film in its graphic, gory violence seems inspired by Korean movies. Still, it’s pretty well done, and a must watch.

Kidwise: Badlapur gets pretty gory and violent, with several hard-to-watch scenes. Unsuitable for children.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, crime, directors, drama, rating-A, rating-R, recommended, thriller | Leave a comment

What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #24

The Prey (English Subtitled)The Prey (“La Proie”, France, 2011)

Frank Adrien is serving his jail sentence for a heist attempt, but breaks out of jail when he perceives a threat to his family. Now he must fight off the police (the persistent Inspector Claire is in hot pursuit), a former cell-mate, and protect his family as well as some stashed loot.

This is a French thriller, not the best one out there, but still pretty well-done. It is well-paced, fairly gripping, with a few chases, some action, and a decently tension-filled plot.

Robot and FrankRobot & Frank (USA, 2012)

Frank is getting older, and he isn’t one for much house-keeping or taking care of himself. In frustration, his son gets him a robot which serves as a medical care-taker and does the messy stuff for him. Loner Frank then develops a rapport of sorts with the robot, and tries to teach him the tricks of his trade; Frank was once a jewel thief.

This is a slow-paced, heart-warming, gentle sort of film. It is well-directed and has some nice performances.

Invasion of the Body SnatchersInvasion of the Bodysnatchers (USA, 1978)

I was curious to see this film because I had listened to the Jack Finney book upon which it is based. In the film, Dr. Bennell and others are experiencing a curious phenomenon. They think that people around them are changing – they look the same physically, but they are not the same. Is this just a misapprehension, or mass hysteria? And what is causing it?

Since this was made in 1978, the sci-fi effects seem a little campy for today. Still it is a pretty interesting film, and stars Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy among others.

Mardaani Hindi DVD Stg; Rani Mukherji 2014 Bollywood Hindi FilmMardaani (India, 2014)

Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy of the Mumbai police begins to investigate the disappearance of a young orphan girl. What seemed to be a simple investigation, turns out to be the fight of her life against an evil mastermind, who doesn’t feel guilt, remorse or fear.

This is an unusual film to come out of Bollywood, because it features a strong, well-formed, independent female character, not that there aren’t any of those in Hindi cinema – there are; they are just rare. Full review here.


DetachmentDetachment (USA, 2011)

Adrien Brody stars as Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher, who teaches where he feels the need is great. He ends up teaching then at many inner city schools, and we see him at one of these in the film.  In his one month there, Henry meets fellow teacher Sarah Madison, and influences student Meredith. Then there is teenage prostitute Erica, whom Henry is trying to get off the streets.

Adrien Brody is superb as the thoughtful, introspective Henry, managing to give us a glimpse of his troubled past, and the angst and depression he dogs.

Posted in 2015, action, All Netflix, bollywood, feel-good, french, Hindi movies on Netflix, horror, mini-reviews, mystery, Netflix Recommendations, sci-fi, thriller | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Badlapur (releases 20th February 2015)

Varun Dhawan in a “different” role in Badlapur – he plays an angry revenge-seeker. There is also Yami Gautam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Huma Qureshi. Also, most importantly, this is a Sriram Raghavan film.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, directors, Previews | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Dolly ki Doli (2015)

Rating : Below average (2/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2014
Running time : 1 hours 40 minutes
Director : Abhishek Dogra
Cast : Sonam Kapoor, Rajkumar Rao, Pulkit Samrat, Archana Puran Singh

Dolly Ki Doli Hindi Audio CD (Bollywood film music) stg:Sonam Kapoor

Dolly ki Doli is a movie which isn’t very good and it’s not so bad. I was very disappointed by it; I was expecting so much more.

If you have watched the trailer, you know that Dolly (Kapoor) and her gang dupe young men and their families into marriage and then make off with the families’ wealth. While she dupes a number of such men, we get to see two of these incidents up-close. The first is of Haryanvi farmer Sonu Sehrawat(Rao) and the second is of city boy Manjot (Varun Sharma), and both men are smitten with the lovely Dolly. There is also a third wheel – Inspector Robin Singh (Samrat) who is brought in to catch the “Looteri Dulhan”.

This movie is an Arbaaz Khan production, but feels like some low-budget, almost C grade film by a newbie director who’s managed to rope in 1 big star. Khan also produced Dabangg (1 & 2) and generally his work has decent production values. But Dolly ki Doli has poor production values, and is very underwhelming. The film has a very whimsical plot, as in no one has though too much about it – not the writer, not the producer and not the director. The characters display little intelligence, conviction or understanding of why they do what they do – they just seem to do it. The movie has a lackluster cast, and songs I will not remember. The screenplay is laggardly; there is only so much repetitive match-making I can take.

Sonam is the only star here, and while she looks beautiful, she cannot quite carry a film on her own. I often get into mini-arguments with people over whether Sonam can act. I say she can, and I point them to Delhi-6. With this film though, I stand defenceless, because Kapoor has made such a hash of it; she waltzes through the film, snug in her own privileged Manish Malhotra-clad cocoon, impervious to all demands of acting. Rajkumar Rao as Sonu Sehrawat is entertaining to watch, because he is a very fine actor. I can’t say the same for Varun Sharma; I wouldn’t quite care to watch him on screen ever again. Then there is Pulkit Samrat, who did well in Fukrey, but isn’t very impressive here.

Dolly ki Doli feels like it was shot on a small, stringent budget. What little money Khan deigns to spend, he spends on the (totally forced) item number, and on Dolly’s bridal costumes. The movie feels like a tv serial, with a very glamorous heroine. It does have a simplicity (shoe-string budget, remember?), but I wouldn’t care to pay for it at the theater. The film is being marketed as a jolly, colorful, energetic romp, but Dolly ki Doli offers nothing – no likeable characters, no love-story, no genuine emotion, no real drama and no satisfaction.

I dragged my husband to this film, and now I owe him one. Let that not be your fate :-) .

Kidwise: If you ignore Malaika Arora Khan’s suggestive item number, this film is fairly clean. But with that song, this is PG-13.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, rating-PG13, stinker | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Baby (2015)

 photo baby_zps32543b9e.jpgRating : Good (3.85/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 40 minutes
Director : Neeraj Pandey
Cast : Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Tapsee Pannu, Danny Denzongpa, Rana Daggubatti, Kaykay Menon

Going by Akshay Kumar’s recent films, one might be tempted to think that “Baby” was the name of a dog/cat/horse/other animal that Kumar was befriending in the movie. Thankfully, it is not so. Baby is the codeword for a nascent, Indian covert intelligence force, formed to fight terrorist through stealthy surgical attacks.

“Baby” is led by Feroze (Denzongpa), and Ajay Singh Rathore (Akshay) is the lead man on most operations, with the hulk-like Jai (Daggubati) flanking him. When Feroze learns of a massive new threat to the nation, Ajay, Jai, brainy Shuklaji (Kher) and female operative Priya (Tapsee) are called in.

Now, one of the reasons I wanted to see this film was because of director Neeraj Pandey. Pandey has directed movies like “A Wednesday” and Special 26, so he’s got a reputation to uphold. “Baby” while a decent watch, isn’t quite as good. Yes, it is a fast-paced thriller, but it is shorn of artistry, delicacy and all the nuanced details that help a film get from good to great. It is not that we were unaware of Pandey’s rather rough-around-the-edges style; “Special 26″ was much the same, except that there, the novelty of the plot helped the film. Here, Baby is yet another movie about a secret organization fighting the terrorists – and that plot “Dday” did better and with far more finesse.

“Baby” starts off with a quick intro, a voice-over by Firoz who fills us in on the basics. Then the film gets going and you are in the thick of it quite abruptly. It feels like the natural beginning and ending of the movie have been chopped off, leaving you, the viewer, watching just the fast-paced middle. Charaterizations are either forced or awkward. Feroze, although the head of “Baby” does little more than ask Ajay what the plan is. Ajay’s character himself is rather introverted, displaying little emotion when with his family, reserving his passion for the job. There is some forced jocularity in Shuklaji’s dry demeanor, but it doesn’t quite turn out very smoothly.

After all this criticism, you might think that I didn’t like Baby. I actually did like it, because it was engrossing, and a fairly well-done spare procedural of covert operations. And spare is important in Bollywood, where every Hindi film attempts to infuse acts of valor with forced melodrama, saintly emotion, and songs with color-coordinated extras in the background. Where “Baby” didn’t succeed, (it doesn’t quite make 4 stars in my book) was in getting me sympathetic to, or invested in the lead character’s life. I watched Baby, quite interested in the goings-on, but detached.

“Baby” is strong on the action, there are a bunch of fight and chase sequences, all quite well done. Although Akshay gets the majority of those, Tapsee has a few hand-to-hand combat scenes which were pretty well executed. There are no songs in the movie itself, although there is one at end as the credits run, and that is filmed in dramatic black-and-white with Esha Gupta (in a Nikhil Thampi gown), very Bond-movie style.

Baby’s background score is thundering (not a compliment) and omnipresent. Every little action is underscored with loud beats, and the lack of subtlety gets tiring after a while.

All in all, a good watch. Just don’t go in there with your expectations sky high.

Kidwise: Pretty violent and bloody.

Posted in 2015, action, bollywood, directors, drama, rating-PG13, thriller | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Detective Byomkesh Bakshi (3rd April 2015)

I’m really looking forward to Byomkesh Bakshi. For starters, it’s a detective film, which we have precious few of (there was Manorama Six Feet Under, but it’s been a few years), and then it is directed by Dibakar Banerjee.

And in case you were wondering, Sushant Singh plays Bakshi.

Posted in 2014, bollywood, book to film, crime, Previews | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Tevar (2015)

Rating : Poor (1/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 37 minutes
Director : Amit Sharma
Cast : Arjun Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Manoj Bajpayee, Raj Babbar, Rajesh Sharma

Tevar’s trailer lured me into believing that the movie would be acceptably decent, if not good, but alas! It was not to be.

Tevar lands firmly into Bollywood’s time-honored genre of “damsel-in-distress” films. It harks back to the terrible films of the 1980s, the insufferable Himmatwalas where the female was only a helpless plot point, unable to defend herself again the evil gunda/don who wanted her for one reason or another. Enter the macho hero, unwittingly drawn into the battle, and once in, resolving to defend the fair maiden’s honor till his last breath.

Arjun Kapoor as kabaddi player Ghanshyam “Pintu” Shukla, from the lovely city of Agra (Agre ka launda, he calls himself), saunters in like the producer’s son. Strong on the brawn, he hits first and thinks later – a perfect fit for a Hindi film hero. Radhika Joshi (Sinha) is the pretty, pert sister of an investigative journalist. When said journalist targets politician Mahender Singh’s (Rajesh Sharma) loose-cannon brother Gajender Singh (Manoj Bajpayi), Gajender is out for blood. Ergo, the film.

Tevar is excessive – excessively violent and excessively stupid. The lead characters are not very likable, and probably last in line when the good Lord was handing out common-sense. I wasn’t really invested in seeing their happy dreams come true. Sonakshi does yet another simpering, save-me act, after the blustery face-off with the bad guy. Arjun’s role here reminds me of his role in Gunday, as in speak-with-your-fists and things will take care of themselves. His projected persona is of a devilish imp, who gets into scrabbles because of his good heart. i.e.; innocent, brawny, boy-man about to save the love of his life. Excuse me while I gag.

Manoj Bajpayee is one of the reasons I wanted to see the film, and he makes a good job of it as Gajender singh. Unfortunately, his performance, even though stellar, couldn’t save a film where everyone else pretty much sleep-walked through their roles.

The music is quite forgettable, although the song “Joganiyan” was picturized quite well. You don’t need to watch the movie, just watch this song (and I’ll make that easy for you – see below) and be done with it. So basically, Tevar ends up being a cliched pot-boiler of little romance and lots of violence. Instead of going forward to elegant, innovative story-telling Tevar takes 10 steps back into hackneyed, over-done, cringe-worthy film-making. I hope it crashes and burns.

Kidwise: The film’s violence took me by surprise. Quite a lot of time is spent in detailing out scenes where extreme violence is carried out and where the villain gloats on the act, while his quarry suffers. There are guns, knives, swords used with swift, slashing violence. Shruthi Hassan appears in an “item number”, where our “innocent” hero joins her in a couple of suggestive moves.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, drama, masala, rating-PG13, romance, stinker | Leave a comment