Movie Review : Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)

Dum Laga Ke Haisha Hindi Blu Ray (Bollywood/ Cinema/ Movie/2015 Film)
Rating : 4/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2015
Running time : 1 hour 51 minutes
Director : Sharat Katariya
Cast : Ayushman Khurana, Bhumi Pednekar, Seema Pahwa, Sheeba Chaddha, Sanjay Mishra
Kidwise Rating: PG

Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a quiet note of melody amid the cacophony that is Hindi commercial cinema, especially coming from the creators of much of that cacophony – Yash Raj Films. It gladdens the heart.

Prem is your average 10th class fail, assisting his father in running a musty tape recording shop in Haridwar. When the parental unit insists on him marrying plump Sandhya, Prem’s objections to marrying a “saand” (literally a bull) are firmly quelled. The marriage happens, but never did we meet such an unhappy twosome.

There is much to like in this film. It is a strong story, with well-defined characters, and actors who fit right into those characters. Sanjay Mishra and Seema Pahwa, whom we also saw in Aankhon Dekhi, play out similar characters as in that film, only this time they aren’t married to each other. Mishra is Prem’s father Chandrabhan Tiwari and Pahwa, Sandhya’s mother Subhadra Rani. Ayushmann Khurana as Prem is marvelous. I couldn’t have imagined city-bred MTV VJ Ayushmann capable of this, but he does a wonderful job as small-town Prem, mannerisms, body language and all. Bhumi Pednekar though, is the find of the film with her gorgeous portrayal of Sandhya. Although her body type won’t let her fit into the traditionally slim-trim Bollywood heroine mould I look forward to seeing this accomplished actress in a lot more films.

Haisha is probably a low-budget film, but crafted with such care and attention to detail – that’s half the battle won, right there. This is situated in small-town UP, and the home (situated on the banks of the Ganga), the clothing, the dialect and the accents are spot-on. The many family members live in a small, courtyard-ish home, where every creak of the marital bed and every phone conversation is overheard. There are several amusing quirks which build up a realistic picture of small-town life and also help in fleshing out the characters – Prem belongs to a “Shakha”, an RSS-style set of young men who engage in various “character-building” exercises . Then there is his Bua, Naintara, (played by the elusive but magnificent Sheeba Chaddha) who although married lives with them. Sandhya’s voluble younger brother also adds interest to the proceedings.

Dum Lage Ke Haisha is a well-put-together package. The music is a strong, although unobtrusive part of the film. The one song I do remember is the gorgeous “Yeh Moh Moh ke Dhaage” which plays in refrains throughout the film. Haisha is such a sweet little charming film, and it works because of the likable lead characters and the strong feel-good factor.

Kidwise: There are a couple of lip-locks but so naturally and unassumingly done, that I doubt they’ll wound any sensibilities. Also some talk of consummation/wedding night, but nothing obscene or vulgar.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, feel-good, quirky, rating-PG | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Piku (8th May 2015)

From the trailer this looks like Finding Fanny Part 2. This film is a remake of Satyajit Ray’s 1980 original. Deepika is Piku, and Amitabh is her cantankerous old dad. And this film is about (no points for guessing) their relationship. Irrfan Khan appears in what could possibly be his first full-fledged mainstream romantic lead role, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the lovely Moushumi Chatterjee on-screen again – from her we’ll get some authentic Bengali; Amitabh’s is making me cringe.

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

Movie Preview : Gabbar is Back (releases 1st May 2015)

A little heavy handed for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali production, here is your next star-studded commercial film:

Posted in 2015, bollywood, Previews | Leave a comment

What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #25

The DebtThe Debt (US, 2010)

The Debt is a spy film about three Mossad agents who try to apprehend a dangerous Nazi criminal in 1965′s East Berlin. The three are considered war heroes at home when they return with the mission accomplished, but many decades later this event continues to have repercussions on their lives, as secret after surprising secret is revealed.

Jessica Chastain, Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington star in this intense, suspense-filled thriller.


The One I Love
The One I Love (US, 2014)

When I read the summary of this film, I dismissed it as yet another loving-marriage-in-trouble kind of film, and we have so many of those. It was only later, on a Reddit thread, that I read that this film was not your average-run-of-the-mill kind of film. So I watched it and recommend you do too.

Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elizabeth Moss) go away to a vacation retreat recommended by their marriage therapist, in a last ditch attempt to fix their marriage and regain the love of their early years. But then . . .


ShahidShahid (India, 2012)

This is one of those interesting, arresting dramas that come by you once in a while courtesy the flourishing Indian film industry. The film is based on a real life character.

Shahid (played by the remarkable Rajkumar Rao), after facing the strong, ruthless arm of the law and seeing a need to defend poor, indigent under-trials, studies law and turns into an activist. In his mission he faces scorn, vitriol and occasional stronger backlash, but he perseveres.

Full review here.


Three WorldsThree Worlds (“Trois Mondes”, France, 2012)

Three Worlds is about a hit-and-run. The driver of the car, the wife of the person hit, and an accidental witness later come into contact, and that gives us the plot of this film about guilt, moral responsibility, and ethics.

The film is beautifully directed and handles the big themes in the film in a very mature and sophisticated manner. Part thriller, and part layered drama, Three Worlds is an excellent watch.


New In TownJohn Mulaney: New In Town (US, 2012)

I chanced upon this stand-up comedy routine after watching a Bill Burr show, and am I glad I did. Mulaney is pleasant and his jokes are pleasantly funny. He keeps away from most controversial topics, doesn’t use women derogatorily in his routine and is about as family-friendly as stand-up comedy gets these days (I’d say this was about PG-13).

This was an entertaining hour long comedy special.

Posted in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, action, All Netflix, bollywood, comedy, drama, english, french, Hindi movies on Netflix, humor, lists, mini-reviews, Netflix Recommendations, quirky, spy movie, suspense, thriller, WhaTWON | Leave a comment

Movie Review: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)

detective_byomkesh_bakshyRating : Average (3/5)
Genre : Thriller, Mystery
Year : 2015
Running time : 2 hours 28 minutes
Director : Dibakar Banerjee
Cast : Sushant Singh, Swastika Mukherjee, Anand Tiwari, Divya Menon, Neeraj Kabi
Kidwise Rating: PG-13

The husband and I encouraged the kids to come along with us to watch “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!” – he’s like an Indian Sherlock Holmes – and their interest piqued, they did. Halfway through the film, they were both asleep, and the husband, I could see, was straining to keep awake. Of the four, I alone saw the entire movie, and here I am to tell the tale.

The film is based on Shardindu Chattopadhay’s stories. In it, Byomkesh (Singh) is approached by Ajit Banerjee (Tiwari), who’s searching for his missing father. Byomkesh initially refuses the case, but later accepts it. A simple missing-persons case turns out to be a whole lot more, involving a number of dead people, the drug-mafia, politicians and the patriotic freedom movement (this was set in 1942).

I have not read Chattopadhay’s work but I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Both are very different characters, but exude a quirky charisma and a unique peculiarity. I imagine Bakshy too to be a charismatic character, much like them. For film adaptations this quality is doubly important, because I care not for the investigation (and by extension, the film) if I care not for the investigator. Sushant Singh plays Bakshy here, and I find the choice perplexing, because Singh is many things but he is not charismatic. Singh has been made to look swarthier, heavy-jowled and uni-browed, and the end result makes him look like a keen-eyed brown fox. I take him more seriously here than I have in his other movies, but he still doesn’t quite light up the screen.

This film is our first introduction to Dibakar Banerjee’s detective, so I’d hoped for a better definition of Bakshy’s character – who and what he was, and what made him tick. I didn’t get that. If you were to ask, post-film, what eccentricities define Bakshy, I wouldn’t know. And that’s not good, because that lack of detail makes Bakshy forgettable, easily replaced by the next oomph-laden detective that comes along (not that there are too many of those in Bollywood).

I imagine a detective story to be lean and spare and strong, grounded strongly by the strength of the main character and his investigative skills. Here, in an attempt to heighten the drama, bring-in the noir, and jazz up the coolth factor of our detective, the film loses its focus and uniqueness.

The story itself is pretty layered so you have to be paying attention to follow it (a quick trip to the restroom in-between would destroy that). The mystery is intricate and hard-to-unravel, and the film can’t do it justice. The plot builds in fits and starts, the action punctuated by wordy, dialog-filled scenes. Bakshy goes about his sleuthing but there is an emotional disconnect – we don’t quite feel the impact of the events in the film. Some of the blame has got to go the background score/music, which bangs on in some scenes but doesn’t promote the build-up of tension. It is as if I am watching a long-drawn out drama, with quick, uneven spurts of action – something that might have worked for a television series, but that doesn’t here.

The film is atmospheric with attention to detail – the sets/production values are strong, and the locales/character appearances are spot-on. But when it comes down to it, this outward veneer can’t quite save this wishy-washy film. I am rather disappointed. This is Dibakar Banerjee’s weakest film yet.

Kidwise: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy has been given the U/A certificate by the Indian Censor Board, which roughly translates to a US PG-13 rating. The film has one non-intense kiss, and the most skin that’s revealed is of a woman in a one-piece bathing suit – fairly tepid by today’s “item-number” standards. It does have quite a bit of gory, bloody violence, with vicious knife thrusts and throat-slittings.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, detective-film, directors, mystery, rating-PG13, thriller | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Margarita With A Straw (17th April 2015)

Margarita With a Straw is the coming-of-age story of Laila Kapoor (Kalki Koechlin), a young woman with cerebral palsy, who goes to the US to study. Besides Koechlin, this stars the magnificent Revathy, as Laila’s mother. This film is directed by Shonali Bose, who also directed Amu. You might recall that I was not overly enthusiastic about that film, but one hopes anew with every venture. Should be interesting.

It might be worthwhile to note that this film has been making the rounds of the film festival circuit, gathering accolades and awards wherever it goes, although that is not proof enough of quality.

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Movie Review : NH10 (2015)

NH10 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Rating : Good (4/5)

Genre : Thriller
Year : 2015
Running time : 1 hours 54 minutes
Director : Navdeep Singh
Cast : Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Deepti Naval, Darshan Kumaar
Kidwise Rating: A

NH10 is National Highway 10, which runs from Delhi, through Haryana and into Punjab. And the film is so named because the protagonists are using it to get to their vacation retreat, when they take an unexpected detour. This is a not a “road film”, though.

Arjun (Bhopalam) and Meera (Sharma) are a young couple, living and working in Gurgaon. To get her mind off a recent incident, Arjun arranges a vacation getaway on the occasion of Meera’s birthday. They are traveling on NH10 and stop for a bite at a roadside dhaba. Here they witness the abduction of another couple, and Arjun steps in to intercede . . .

NH10, simply put, is about two urban yuppies caught up in a roadside crime. The plot rings true because it happens in the state of Haryana, made famous for its honor-killing Khaps and the low ratio of females-to-males (a character actually alludes to this in the film “there is a dearth of women here, anyway”). Besides which, if you are a woman and have lived or travelled in Delhi’s NCR region (or in India) it is not much of a stretch to put yourself in Meera’s shoes, driving along by yourself on a relatively quiet road with passing motorcyclists leering in suggestively through the windows. Such is the ground reality. Such are the men.

I was on tenterhooks for most of NH10; it is tension-filled and suspenseful. You know from the trailer that something bad will happen, and you sit on the edge of your seat, waiting for it and dreading it at the same time. The build-up is superb, and the first half of the film is steeped in atmosphere and some very well executed cat-and-mouse chases.

Just as in “Manorama 6 feet under” director Navdeep Singh creates his settings and characters with skill. Meera and Arjun drive on dusty roads, and there are men in little groups stretched out on string cots, or a curious child staring from his perch on a low wall. This is such a familiar street-side scenario in India – there are always men around, lounging, leering. The protagonists are easy to relate to, because they are regular city folk. You like them; you are vested in their well-being, rooting for them in this nightmarish situation.

Anushka and Neil do a very good job as the young, in-love, husband and wife. Meera’s character is sketched out pretty well, a young woman reflecting on the standard reply given to women, who are victims of crime – “Such things will happen. Why go out alone?” The bad guys are believable too – scruffy looking young men roaring about in a large, dusty SUV. Darshan Kumaar (whom we saw in Mary Kom) fits the role of Haryanvi hothead Satbir. Ravi Jhankal, another great actor, plays Mama Fauji, who eggs on Satbir and his friends.

NH10 is very violent and gets pretty gory. There are some scenes which depict brutality towards women also. The film has an A certificate from the Indian Censor Board and rightly so. However, even after the A certificate, NH10 was stalled for release because the censors wanted the violence toned down. I will say that some scenes were hard to watch, but I’m against the “toning down”. This reflects ground reality and must be shown raw and unedited, because, and I quote here from a NDTV discussion on the Nirbhaya case, “How will we know Red Riding Hood’s plight unless we understand how big and bad the wolf really was?” The reality is far more unpalatable than any film ever could be.

NH10 is a must watch. Highly recommended.

Kidwise: Owing to the violence, this is unsuitable for children.

Posted in 2015, bollywood, directors, rating-A, rating-R, recommended, social issues, suspense, thriller, women | Leave a comment