Movie Review : Manmarziyaan

Rating : 4/5 (Good)
Genre : Romance
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours 36 minutes
Director : Anurag Kashyap
Cast : Abhishek Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal
Kid rating : PG-15

I was looking forward to Manmarziyaan; you can probably tell from the featured Preview. This is director Anurag Kashyap’s second film of the year, the first being the fabulous Mukkabaaz. Kashyap’s films are generally a treasure – the guy knows what he is doing and he does it well. He excels in the crime genre (Gangs of Wasseypur etc.) but lately his stories come threaded with a romantic angle. Manmarziyaan is of the latter genre.

Manmarziyaan is literally “my wish” – “Man” = mind, “Marzi” = wish. In this case it is the wish of impetuous, high-strung and willful Rumi Bagga (Pannu). Rumi lives with her aunt and uncle and is in love with local good-for-nothing Vicky Sandhu (Kaushal). When the family discover him ensconced in her room one morning, she is threatened with marriage to good husband material Robbie Bhatia (Bachchan) . . .

The story wasn’t hard to piece together from the teaser, but the way this film teetered and tottered I wasn’t quite sure that this was going to end the way I thought it was. Plus no guarantees with Kashyap; he often doesn’t go the crowd-pleasing route. I will say that the first half of Manmarziyaan is super tight – just no-getting-off-your-seat engrossing. In the second the film flags a bit, because we get to dealing with the the knobby, crumbly bits of life. Kashyap also takes a chance with this romance by painting his characters in shades of grey – there is no purely “good” character here except Robbie. I blame that characterization for the lack of feel-good fuzziness to the film’s ending. Or maybe that’s just me – my husband loved the film in it’s entirety.

Manmarziyaan is a must-see also because of its stellar cast. Vicky Kaushik is fabulous just as expected – you have seen Masaan, haven’t you? But Taapsee is a revelation; she is really proving her mettle here. Abhishek Bachchan, not necessarily the best of actors, is just right as brooding, taciturn Robbie – his character reminded me of Ajay Devgan’s in the lovely “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. Even the supporting cast is just so spot-on, from Robbie’s mom to Rumi’s cousin sister.

In Manmarziyaan I also see some of the quirks of “Dev D”, with the appearance of twins in random frames. The music is also kinda typical of Kashyap films – stems from the locale and genre of the film. My favorite was Darya – both film and uncut versions.

Manmarziyaan is now my second favorite film of the year 🙂 – do go see!

Kidwise: The movie has plenty of make-out scenes, although it is pretty cleanly done. The storyline and content of Manmarziyaan will probably only interest ages 15 and above.

Posted in 2012, 2018, bollywood, directors, rating-PG15, recommended, romance | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : 5 Weddings (releases September 21st)

Is Rajkummar Rao in every movie now? Did I miss that memo? Apparently yes and yes.

Here he is in another one, opposite the lovely Nargis Fakhri. 5 Weddings is directed by Namrata Singh Gujral, who I know not much about, but thought that the trailer looked interesting. Fakhri plays an Indian-American journalist who’s come to India to write an article on traditional weddings. Rajkummar Rao is the policeman escorting her on the journey. Why does she need an escort? Your guess is as good as mine.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, New Films, Previews | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Batti Gul Meter Chalu (release September 21st)

From the director of “Toilet Ek Prem Katha” Shree Narayan Singh, comes another issue-based film, this time about electricity and the corruption around it. Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Yami Gautam and Divyendu Sharma star.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, drama, New Films, Previews, real-life-based, social issues | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Stree

Rating : 1/5 (Poor)
Genre : Horror
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours 8 minutes
Director : Amar Kaushik
Cast : Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Atul Shrivastav, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee, Vijay Raaz
Kid rating : PG-13

The small town of Chander is rocked by fear 4 days every year. Legend has it that during these 4 days of Puja, a ghost/bhootni “Stree” comes to town and abducts men who remain out of the home after dark. When local tailor Vicky (Rao) is smitten by a mysterious young woman (Kapoor) who says she comes to town only 4 days in a year, his friends are alarmed that Vicky might be falling in love with “Stree” herself.

The film is billed as a horror-comedy, with the horror stemming from legend, superstition and old wives’ tales. The film does well in sketching out the characters in the small town. Especially nicely done is Vicky’s character, and the easy camaraderie with his goofy friends Bittu (Khurana) and Jana (Banerjee). Tripathi as self-professed occult expert Rudra is a hoot, and Vijay Raaz makes an appearance as a zoned-out writer, who prophesies a solution to the bhootni problem.

However, the film soon devolves into silliness and stupidity. Stree also suffers from mixed messaging – the bhootni plaguing Chanderi is a feminist avenging the vile treatment of women – and while I can see that as appearing quite smart-alecky when writing the script, it doesn’t transfer as cleverly on screen. On one hand you have gibberish about witch potions and antidotes, and on the other you have women’s empowerment – that’s a combination I’d rather not see on screen.

While the small-town story sans the bhootni angle is well-done, the film becomes unwatchable once it goes into full-on ghost-fighting mode. There are some laughs, and some shock-value scares. But the going soon gets boring, the characters become progressively more and more dumb, and the movie wends its way forward without rhyme or reason. It was hard work just remaining seated in the theater. Matters are not helped by leading lady Kapoor, who displays a complete lack of acting ability.

Stree is best left unseen.

Kidwise: Some scary stuff for the young ones.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, goofy, horror, rating-PG13, social issues | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Manmarziyaan (releases September 14th)

I’m so waiting for this one! From the trailer it looks like something Imtiaz Ali would make, but this is Anurag Kashyap! He’s been known for mobster/crime films (like the intense Gangs of Wasseypur) so let’s see how he does at romance.

P.S.: I think he’ll do well 🙂

Posted in 2018, bollywood, directors, New Films, Previews, romance | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Tumhari Sulu (2017)

Rating : 3.6/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 19 minutes
Director : Suresh Triveni
Cast : Vidya Balan, Manav Jaul, Neha Dhupia, Vijay Acharya
Kid rating : PG

I’ve put off seeing this movie for a while, because there was only one star in this film, and although Vidya can carry a film very well on her own shoulders (you’ve seen Kahaani, yes?), in a role such as this – over-the-top, bubbly-ish – I though she’d be a bit much. Well, I was pleasantly surprised – because, although in certain scenes, you could see the real Vidya break through (especially when dissolving into loud, incessant peals of laughter) – she held it together beautifully, and I quite rooted for her character in the film.

Sulochana is a housewife, with a penchant for participating and winning contests. Bubbly Sulu gets the opportunity to become a late-night radio jockey, and is delirious when her show becomes a hit. She manages to bring her common sense and warmth to the show even when exhorted to make her voice sultry and inviting to male callers. Her husband and family though, when they hear her on air, deem it not respectable, and ask that she quit. Well, she won’t.

When you think about it, it is a bit of the ghisa-pita, regressive society blah-blah-blah kind of kahaani, but yet Tumhari Sulu makes it fresh. Balan is responsible for much of the freshness, because she is quite lovely as Sulu, managing to make even middle-class, modest, sari-clad Sulu, with her ghar-ka-khana and her homely nature, such a poster-girl for empowerment. Sulu is a character with real heart, she is impetuous and loves surprises, but she also doubts herself. Her sense of self worth, much eroded by a disparaging dad and a pair of supercilious bank-jobbing sisters, is buoyed by the her boss’s (Dhupia) confidence in her. I loved the fact that even when her loving and supportive husband (Kaul) begins to doubt her choices, she believes enough in herself to not back down.

The downer of course, and there is a downer, is that all the melodrama gets resolved too quickly, and too unsatisfactorily for me. The film chomps down nice and hard on a real problem, but then is quite content to let go, without a whimper, without a fight. All the loose ends tie up nicely with a bit of mommy drama, and a few tears. Tumhari Sulu had the potential to go places. Alas, it doesn’t.

Still, a decent film. Watch it for Balan.

Kidwise: Relatively clean. Some lasvicious talk, but that’s pretty much it.

Posted in 2018, Amazon Prime, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, goofy, humor, rating-PG, women | Leave a comment

Movie Preview: Stree (releases 31st August, 2018)

Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. who gave us the magnificent “Shor in the City” return with a horror film based on the legend of Nale Ba. Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor are the leads in the film.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, comedy, directors, horror, New Films, Previews, quirky | Comments Off on Movie Preview: Stree (releases 31st August, 2018)

Movie Review : Karwaan (2018)

Rating : 3.8/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours 5 minutes
Director : Akash Khurana
Cast : Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salman, Mithila Palker, Amala Akkineni, Kriti Kharbanda
Kid rating : PG

Karwaan is about Avinaash and his friends. It is about happiness, and living your life to get that happiness. Malayali heart-throb Dulquer Salman (you might have seen him in OK Kanmani) plays straight-laced Avinash, who’s given up his passion for photography and is now tied to his desk doing the old 9-to-5. When a family emergency requires a road trip, Avinaash borrows friend Shaukat’s (Irrfan Khan) van, and sets out. Shaukat joins him. On the way, they pick up another passenger, college-kid Tanya. The journey takes many detours, is adventuresome, but reaches a good destination.

The film is not unpredictable. We start off with a bit of a cliche, the young man railroaded into a “good” career by his family at the cost of a personal passion. We know there’s going to be a resolution to that, we just don’t know how. Because this is Avinash’s film, his life, his career, his personal situation is front and center. But Avinash’s friend Shaukat is also an interesting character, and some time is devoted to his adventures and personal problems.

Feel-good films about life and happiness are hard to make, because higher emotions like kindness, goodness and altruism are hard to define and even harder to portray meaningfully on screen. Karwaan succeeds because it shows us Avinaash’s journey from the desk-bound, resentful young man to a more-at-peace, free, individual. And it does this delicately, spinning up believable characters who come into his life and have a benevolent influence. There is humor and a reflection on realistic day-to-day quandaries. As the journey progresses, we watch Avinaash evolve in his thinking, mature, give up his anger and gain an acceptance and an understanding that brings him calm. That is a beautiful thing to see.

I was a little doubtful when I first read of Dulquer Salman portraying average joe Avinaash, because his non-Hindi films are a little bombastic, where his characters have flamboyant personalities. Surprisingly with a normal hair-cut, glasses and a computer bag swung over a shoulder Salman transforms into quite the nerd. He also does a decent job of the acting. Irfan needs no introduction; his Shayiri-spouting, eccentric Shaukat brings humor and a light-hearted charm to this film. Mithila Palkar as the impetuous Tanya is also quite a good. The surprise here is seeing lovely yesteryear South Indian actress Amala playing Tanya’s mom Tahira; she is just the woman to bring this graceful role to life.

Karwaan’s lovely soundtrack emphasizes the film’s tender-hearted tale. While it is a little slow-paced, the film left me with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. I look forward to director Khurana’s future ventures.

Kidwise: Clean.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, directors, drama, family-friendly, feel-good, humor, New Films, rating-PG, road movie, touchy-feely | Comments Off on Movie Review : Karwaan (2018)

Movie Review : Fanney Khan (2018)

Rating : 2/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2018
Running time : 2 hours 15 minutes
Director : Atul Manjrekar
Cast : Anil Kapoor, Divya Dutta, Rajkummar Rao, Pihu Sand, Aishwarya Rai
Kid rating : PG-15

Fanney Khan is produced by Rakesh OmPrakash Mehra Pictures (ROMP), so basically the folks who gave us films like “Rang de Basanti” and Delhi-6. Lately they have been more miss than hit, but one can always hope that they’ll pick a winner. Unfortunately, in Fanney Khan they don’t.

Fanney Khan has a convoluted mess of a story. It involves a golden-hearted orchestra singer Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor) who nurses his dreams of becoming a singer and hopes his daughter Lata (Pihu Sand) will fulfill them. In here are also Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai), a top singer who’s sick and tired of her conniving manager and the will-do-anything-for-TRP industry.

One day, Fanney and Baby’s paths collide, and the film turns unpredictably. This opens up possibilities, but director Atul Manjrekar manages to squander all of them. Fanney Khan basically went downhill from there, actually getting so silly at times, that my husband, who was watching the film with me, wanted to walk out halfway. I wish I’d agreed to that!

The film’s characters are kinda black-and-white, which I didn’t expect in a ROMP film; I expected better. Prashant and wife Kavita (Divya Dutta) are the typical filmi, sacrificing, door-mat parents – they want the best for their daughter but they let her walk all over them. The daughter Lata is a thoughtless, selfish child – and really hard to root for. In Bollywood sacrifice is good, and the film tries to milk some sympathy for the poor, downtrodden parents; I felt nothing but pity – for the director.

There are a few bright spots even in this messy film, 2 to be precise. There is Rajkummar Rao (who was magnificent in Newton), who plays Prashant’s friend Adhir, and Divya Dutta who plays Prashant’s wife Kavita. These two perform their hearts out, give more than they are asked for, and imbue their characters with personality. Even Pihu Sand is pretty good; it’s a pity that her character is defined in such a one-dimensional way. Anil Kapoor is the same as ever; while he is fine he’s never been known for nuance. Aishwarya Rai, while gorgeous, is wooden. If she ever had an acting bone in her body, motherhood has sucked it right out of her.

This film is not worth watching; save your time and money.

Kidwise: Clean. But think again: why would you put a child, nay anyone, through a film like this?

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Movie Preview : Fanney Khan (releases 3rd August 2018)

Fanney Khan has some big names: Anil Kapoor & Aishwarya Rai. It also has Rajkummar Rao and Divya Dutta, plus what looks like a heartwarming tale about a wannabe singer and her struggling family.

Posted in 2018, bollywood, New Films, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Fanney Khan (releases 3rd August 2018)