Movie Preview : Detective Byomkesh Bakshi (February 13th 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

Movie Preview : Roy (releases 13th February 2015)

This stars Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez, and is directed by newbie director Vikramjit Singh. Looks interesting and mysterious, but could go either way.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, Previews | Leave a comment

What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #23

The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch- The Heir Apparent : Largo Winch (“Largo Winch”, France, 2008)

If this were not in French, I could almost mistake it for a Bollywood movie, so masala-packed is this film.

Billionaire Nerio Winch is murdered and his secret adoptive son must fight to prevent a hostile takeover of his father’s legacy. Tomer Sisley (also seen in the excellent French thriller “Sleepless Night”) is swashbuckling, street-smart Largo. Kristin Scott Thomas also stars.

Largo Winch is an entertaining, action-packed watch.

Girl Most Likely- Girl Most Likely (USA, 2013)

If you have seen Bridesmaids, or any of Kristen Wiig’s other ventures, you know that she is quite fantastic. Here she plays wishy-washy Imogene, a writerly sort, who’s forced to move back in to her mother’s (Annette Bening) New Jersey home after her career and life go down the tubes.

The parental unit is fairly eccentric, and her abode bursts at the seams with some similarly quirky characters, like Imogene’s adult arachnid-loving brother, and her mother’s much younger, semi-delusional boyfriend (Matt Dillon).

Humorous and poignant.

Live-In Maid- Live-in Maid (“Cama Adentro”, Argentina, 2005)

Beba, a well-off divorcee is finding it hard to make ends meet. She hasn’t paid Dora, her maid of 30 years, her wages for months, and now Dora, a mostly silent, hard-worker can take it no more. She quits and moves back to the country on the pretext of completing some work on her home, and tethering wayward mate Miguel to the homestead.

Beba is depressed and lonely, and find life hard without Dora’s silent companionship. Dora staunchly refuses to come back to her, so Beba must find other ways.

This is a slow paced film about companionship, sisterhood, and social classes. Very well done.

Jab We Met- Jab We Met (India, 2007)

Flighty Geet (Kareena Kapoor) is making the train journey to persuade her hesitant boyfriend into matrimony. En route she meets depressed looking Aditya (Shahid Kapoor), who is fed up of his familial and business issues. They both influence each other’s lives in different ways.

A light, peppy romance, Jab We Met is helmed by acclaimed director Imtiaz Ali and is a feel-good, family-friendly watch, with melodious music and lots of energetic Bollywood style dancing .

Full review here.

Two Lives- Two Lives (“Zwei Leben”, Norway, 2012)

Katrine finds her lovely Norwegian life crumbling when past secrets about East Germany come to light. She must find a way to fix this, but there are traitors everywhere, and even then, her efforts to save her family and herself may not be enough …

This is quite an unpredictable film, which languorously reveals its shocking secrets. Very atmospheric, slow-paced and dark at times, Two Lives is a remarkable film. I quite enjoyed it.

Posted in 2015, action, All Netflix, bollywood, drama, english, french, goofy, Hindi movies on Netflix, hollywood, humor, lists, mini-reviews, Netflix Recommendations, norwegian, recommended, spanish, thriller, women | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Shahid (2013)

ShahidRating : Good (4.2/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2013
Running time : 2 hours 9 minutes
Director : Hansal Mehta
Cast : Rajkumar Rao, Prabhleen Sandhu, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, K.K. Menon

Shahid is based upon the real-life story of human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in Mumbai in 2010. Rao plays the lawyer, and we see his beginnings and his development as a person with a goal, through his varied experiences.

Initially Shahid believes himself a radical and joins a militant-training camp in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He cannot however stomach the violence required of the job, and soon runs away. In Mumbai, he is picked up by the police and imprisoned. In jail, he is influenced by War Saab (Menon in a short role) to continue his education and takes up law once he is released. Soon he is fighting for wrongly imprisoned under-trials, which earns him praise as well as brick-bats.

Rajkumar Rao brings Shahid’s story to life with a superb, understated performance. The film itself is strong on story, pretty spare, and simply told. Mehta manages to convey to us Shahid’s hard-won convictions, and the man’s struggle to do the right thing in spite of the toll it takes on his personal life.

This is a fantastic watch on Netflix Instant for US viewers. Highly recommended.

Kidwise : This is not a film for the (younger) kids. Contains some scenes of police brutality, as well as some adult situations.

Posted in 2013, bio-pic, bollywood, drama, Hindi movies on Netflix, rating-PG15, recommended, social issues | 1 Comment

Best Hindi Films of 2014

Yes, I know you have been waiting for this post all year (with bated breath etc.) so I will get to it. But instead of doing the mini-review thingy like I usually do, I’ll tell you why the film made it on this list, and maybe embed a song. Clicking on the movie name will take you to the full review.

10. Happy Ending : The charming Ileana D’Cruz made this quirky film work.

9. Highway : I expected to be floored by this movie. I really did. I was not. Still, a decent film.

8. 2 States : This was an entertaining film. Cute. Young. Peppy. Fun. Lots of drama. Lots of gana-bajana. Romance. Nice music.

7. Haider : Shahid was so good in this film, Tabu was magnificent, and it was nice seeing Shraddha play a female with a brain (have you seen Ek Villain?). It is a tragedy though, and there is sadness and snow. The music was gorgeous, so gorgeous that I’m just grateful to be able to listen to one great man’s poetry put to such delicate music by another genius.

6. Dedh Ishqiya : An intricately plotted film with zany, peculiar characters. Quite entertaining despite having to wade through chaste Urdu dialogues.

5. Mardaani : Rani Mukherjee playing a fearless, intelligent, dhishum-dhishum cop, a niche mostly reserved for heroes. And she does it well.

4. Bobby Jasoos : Vidya Balan. Also good to see floppy-haired, lazy-eyed Ali Fazal actually show some energy.

3. P.K. : Humorous, wholesome and pretty clean entertainment.

2. Aankhon Dekhi : A gorgeous film. By a film-maker who knows what he is doing.

1. Queen : Many Bollywood movies pretend to show female empowerment or have their characters mouth off on respecting women, but they have nary a clue. This film does. And how. Besides all that, Kangana is marvelous.

Posted in 2014, annual roundup, Best hindi movies, bollywood, lists, mini-reviews, recommended | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Dolly ki Doli (releases 23rd January 2015)

This looks fairly entertaining. It even stars Rajkumar Rao! And Sonam and Pulkit Samrat, who was the one bright spot in Fukrey. The only problem here is that this is an Arbaz Khan production – he’s got a tendency to turn his projects into commercial, masala pot-boilers. Let’s hope he doesn’t do that to this one.

Posted in 2014, 2015, bollywood, Previews | Leave a comment