Movie Review : Bharat

Rating : 2/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2019
Running time : 2 hours 35 minutes
Director : Abbas ali Zafar
Cast : Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover, Disha Patani, Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Sonali Kulkarni
Kid rating : G

Bharat has a lofty tagline – journey of a man & a nation together – but do not be misled 🙂 . I’d set a low bar for this film and it surpassed my low expectations, but not my much.

The film is Bharat’s life story, told in flashback. Now an old man and a grandfather, Bharat still grapples with well-muscled thugs and reminisces about his tumultuous life. As an 8-year-old, he travels from Pakistan to India during Partition, losing track of his sister and father along the way, His remaining family manage to safely make their way to the home of his bua (father’s sister). There they settle and Bharat strives to make good the promise made to his father before they are separated – a promise to keep his family together.

Bharat’s story is based on the Korean film “Ode to my father”. It’s kinda Forest-Gumpish, where the protagonist progresses through life’s many challenges. Initially I had no idea that this was a Korean-film-spinoff, and as the film progressed and you were able to discern a pattern I was surprised that director Zafar had managed to cobble together this rather high-brow angle; he directed Sultan, which was decidedly earthy.

While the concept is good, it is well beyond the directorial prowess of Zafar, hence the poor execution. The film has been Bollywood-ized to add in nonsensical melodrama, and the logic is questionable (like I never got why Bharat couldn’t get married). The costumes and the language don’t quite fit with the era so that takes away from the “authenticity” feel.

Each event is portrayed in great detail – which would have been fine if it was a nuanced portrayal. However with Zafar’s relatively ham-handed approach, realism is out the window, Bharat becomes this all-in-one, can-do, always right, Bollywoodian superhero – very far from the everyman that he should have been, and I can’t really feel for his larger-than-life persona.

Salman as Bharat is like Salman in any other movie. Katrina who plays his love interest, Kumud, has been de-glamorized with curly, unkempt hair and glasses and does a decent job, although her dialog delivery needs work – it is so monotonous. Sunil Grover is Vilayati, Bharat’s life-long friend and sidekick. Disha Patani – whom you might remember from M.S.Dhoni – is statuesque and impressive when she is dancing, not so impressive when she is not. Also, she has very little impact on the story, so not much to work with. Everyone else – Tabu et. al. has bit roles.

The music is so-so. And the movie is long – could have been easily shortened by an hour. Bharat overall, is a little weaker than average; temper expectations accordingly if you go see this one.

Kidwise: Clean. Imbued with sexist stereotypes (but then what’s new?)

Posted in 2019, bollywood, historical, korean, rating-G, remake | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Kabir Singh (releases 21st June 2019)

The trailer looks a little disturbing. But Kabir Singh should be promising given that this is Shahid Kapoor, who can act, and director Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who helmed the original Telugu move “Arjun Reddy” on which this film is based. Also starring – the lovely Kiara Advani, who was pretty promising in Lust Stories.

Posted in 2019, bollywood, drama, New Films, Previews, remake, romance | Leave a comment

Movie Review : Student Of The Year 2

Rating : 1/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2019
Running time : 2 hours 26 minutes
Director : Punit Malhotra
Cast : Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria, Ananya Pandey
Kid rating : PG-13

Karan Johar’s films may not always make logical sense, but they are generally good entertainment and one goes in with that expectation. So Student of the Year 2 was a massive disappointment – it wasn’t just bad, it was terrible.

Rohan Sachdev (Shroff), a middleclass kid is secretly a wannabe. He wants to hang with the cool kids in  private St. Teresa’s but when he gets the old heave-ho from that crowd, resolves to stick to his roots and get back at them. Ergo, he needs to win the “Student of the Year” title from arch rival rich kid Manav Randhawa.

So, classic underdog story; you’d think it’d be easy to take it home. Apparently not. The film’s scripting, screenplay and execution is pretty ghastly. I hadn’t expected the sun and the moon from director Malhotra (I have watched “I Hate Luv Storys”) but this was off the charts. And not in a good way.

The characters in the film are unpleasant and have about as much depth as a puddle. Also look at that film poster above – it is truly vacuous. Is life really that great, or are the threesome on something? Unfortunately their attempts at acting don’t help either.

I haven’t seen Tiger Shroff’s films before this, and I will not ever again. His acting abilities border on the non-existent. Also apparently once a Flying Jat, always a Flying Jat – that explains the ridiculous slo-mo flying antics during kabaddi games. The 2 girls are long, leggy and lithe. Newcomer Ananya Pandey shows some spark, and might do well given a decent script. Tara Sutaria is quite pretty but she is no Alia.

I’m just amazed that a film this pathetic made it all the way to the screens without anyone sounding the alarm. You’d think they’d watch it themselves before inflicting it upon the unsuspecting public.

Do keep away (that takes care of my good deed for the day).

Kidwise: Clean. But why oh why would you do this to a poor child?

Posted in 2019, bollywood, cringe-worthy, drama, juvenile, rating-PG13, underdog angle | Leave a comment

Movie Review : De De Pyaar De (2019)

Rating : 2/5
Genre : Comedy
Year : 2019
Running time : 2 hours 40 minutes
Director : Akiv Ali
Cast : Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh, Alok Nath, Jimmy Shergill
Kid rating : PG-13

The bare bones: 50 year old London-based venture capitalist Ashish (Devgn) falls in love with 26 year old bartender/engineer Ayesha (Singh). He decides to introduce his new girlfriend to his estranged family and travels to Kulu-Manali where his ex-wife Manju (Tabu) runs the family resort. Confusion and chaos reign on arrival.

De De Pyar De is supposed to be a comedy, and I will admit that some of the jokes do land. But let me also say, that this kind of comedy makes me want to douse myself in a vat of feminism. The first couple of scenes gave me pause but the first half also gave me hope – the romance is nicely done. But then the twosome go home to family and the saga of perceived male victimhood begins.

Given that this is a Luv Ranjan production (he of Pyar ka Punchnama, Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety fame), I’d expected the misogyny to be omnipresent. But then you see some of the “depth”-laden scenes and you wonder to yourself – has Ranjan seen the light? Was one wrong about him all along? But as the veiled misogyny rises to the surface you realize – no, he hasn’t seen the light. One was quite right about him after all. De De Pyar De appears to be forward-thinking but its regressive notions are very much present.

The second half of “De De Pyar De” pits younger, prettier Ayesha against the mature, graceful first wife with metaphors about aging cars and ghar ki dal. The macho man in the middle cowers and squawks intermittently but mostly watches the proceedings.

Ranjan’s films seems to have a very lax standard for the bechara aadmi. In De De Pyar De’s first few scenes we are told that our hero is a principled man – he wouldn’t have sex with a drunk woman. Low bar that! After his divorce, Ashish has been out of his kids lives for years – no good reason presented as to why. Astonishingly no one but his daughter seems to have a problem with that. When he cheats on the woman in his life, he portrays it to said woman as an act of kindness towards another human being in her hour of need  (pun intended).Despite all this caddishness the women are falling for him like nine pins. Wonders never cease.

Ashish’s parents live with his wife and seem to consider him at fault – which calls for a good eye-roll. Because, pop-quiz: Which parental unit actually sides with the daughter-in-law post-divorce? Answer: Not an Indian one. Stuff like this makes me want to categorize this film as a fantasy – a Ram-Rajya fantasy where the man (and his parents) are all saints being put upon by warring women fighting for a piece of the saintliness.

While I’ve always liked Devgn he isn’t too choosy with his roles. Tabu gives this film a touch of class, and Rakul Preet Singh is impressive as Ayesha. Jimmy Shergill is but a husk of his former self – the man deserves better than this eccentric side-hero wala gig. Really, I quite like the actors; just not the film.

Brave this fantasy at your own risk.

Kidwise: The tone of the film is problematic but younger kids may not catch that.

Posted in 2019, bollywood, comedy, cringe-worthy, masala, rating-PG13 | Leave a comment

Movie Preview : Student Of The Year 2 (releases May 10th, 2019)

Remember Student of the Year 1? Well, here’s edition #2! This one stars Tiger Shroff, yes he of the only dancing, no-acting school :). Also 2 new heroines make their debut – Tara Sutaria and Ananya Pandey (Chunky Pandey’s daughter). The movie looks packed to the brim with masala, but seems fun. Also has a very lovely remix version of “Yeh Jawaani”.

Posted in 2019, bollywood, family-friendly, masala, New Films, Previews, romance | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Student Of The Year 2 (releases May 10th, 2019)

Movie Preview : Kalank (releases 17th April 2019)

Kalank is a set during the partition era and is replete with beautiful women and sets to gladden a Bhansali’s heart. It is directed by Abhishek Varman who also directed the entertaining “2 States”. The trailer looks interesting and although I can’t quite tell what is going on, there is definitely a revenge theme!

Posted in 2019, bollywood, drama, historical, period film | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Kalank (releases 17th April 2019)

What To Watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime – Edition #32

Made in Heaven (Amazon Prime, Series)

From the makers of Gully Boy comes Made in Heaven. Zoya Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava (director of Lipstick Under My Burkha), Nitya Mehra (director of Baar Baar Dekho) and Prashant Nair direct. MIH is about Tara Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan Mehra (Arjun Mathur) – two wedding planners in India, planning the big day(s) for the ultra-rich and moneyed.

Tara comes from the middle class but is now married to tycoon Adil Khanna (Jim Sarbh), and Karan is gay in an India which only recently overturned the draconian Section 377. Every episode is a new wedding, different people, religions, mindsets, and via these varied scenarios the story deals with a myriad of social issues. The fabulous star cast includes Kalki Koechlin and Shashank Arora (whom you might remember from the gorgeous Titli).

Mirzapur (Amazon Prime, Series)

Mirzapur is the story of two brothers Guddu (Ali Fazal), who’s all brawn and Bablu Pandit (Vikrant Massey), who’s all brain. Sons of an honest lawyer in a small town, the brothers, through a series of unfortunate incidents, start to work for Akhanda Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi)and his son Munna (Divyendu Sharma, of the Pyar ka Punchnama films), the criminals who rules over Mirzapur.

This series is the poor cousin to “Gangs of Wasseypur”. The genre is about the same, with Mirzapur being even more violent and gory. It is still pretty binge-worthy because it ramps up very quickly, is fast-paced and has a spectacular cast.

Delhi Crime (Netflix, Series)

Delhi Crime is based on the Nirbhaya case, where a woman was gang-raped and fatally tortured in a moving bus in New Delhi. Shefali Chaya is Vartika Chaturvedi, DCP South, the woman in charge of the investigation. This Season of Delhi Crime follows Vartika and her crack team of police officers as they pursue the 6 perpetrators. Rajesh Tailing, Rasika Duggal, Adil Hussain (of English Vinglish fame) are among the superb cast.

Soni (Netflix, Feature Film)

Soni (Gitika Vidya Ohlyan) is a young policewoman in Delhi. She is honest, hard-working and passionate about her job. Her work is appreciated by her superior Kalpana (Saloni Batra), but Kalpana herself is called to task when the frustrated Soni sometimes let loose.

This hard-hitting film is a character study of Soni and Kalpana as they wage war on crimes against women and the entrenched patriarchy. They still have to do it within their limits, and Soni comes very close to crossing hers. The film’s tone is set by the audio we hear in the background – there is always news or the radio playing, the newscasters detailing out these crimes or spewing PSAs exhorting women to be cautious and safe. A similar technique was employed in the short “That Day After every Day”.

Posted in 2018, 2019, All Netflix, Amazon Prime, crime, directors, drama, feminism, Hindi movies on Amazon Prime, Hindi movies on Netflix, mini-reviews, Netflix Recommendations, real-life-based, recommended, social issues, suspense, thriller, WhaTWON, women | Comments Off on What To Watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime – Edition #32

Movie Preview : Romeo Akbar Walter (releases 5th April 2019)

This spy movie stars John Abraham, Jackie Shroff, Boman rani and Goving Namdeo. Television actress Mouni Roy, who made her debut in Gold, plays the female lead. Although one wonders how much there will be for her to do since she was barely even in the trailer. Robbie Grewal directs – and that’s a bit of an unknown since I haven’t seen any of his work.

Posted in 2019, bollywood, spy movie | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Romeo Akbar Walter (releases 5th April 2019)

Movie Review : Sonchiriya

Rating : 4/5
Genre : Mystery
Year : 2019
Running time : 2 hours
Director : Abhishek Chaubey
Cast : Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shourie, Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Ashutosh Rana
Kid rating : PG-13

Sonchiriya’s story is situated in the ravines of Chambal valley, circa 1975 during the Indian Emergency. It is about a band of dacoits lead by their leader Man Singh (Manoj Bajpai). When Man Singh is put out of circulation by a police ambush, Vakil Singh (Ranvir Shourey) is elected leader, but some of the gang members gravitate towards Lakhan Singh (Sushant Singh Rajput). The split widens further when the band comes across a woman, Indumati Tomar (Bhumi Pednekar), who asks for their protection from her pursuers, and Vakil and Lakhna disagree on whether they should help her or not.

Sonchiriya is literally “golden bird”, an elusive, mythical creature. Here it is used to symbolize absolution for a past misdeed. Lakhna looks at protecting Indumati and getting her gravely injured younger sister (whom she lovingly calls her “Sonchiriya”) to a hospital as his absolution. The film thus centers around Lakhan Singh – the man, his morals and his mission. In one scene he justifies his choice musing that he can face the world, but cannot face himself if he does the the wrong thing. Rajput does a great job of portraying an “honorable” dacoit.

Sonchiriya spans a wide landscape. This is a story about the dakus, but it also encompasses in its fold many social ills: casteism, classism, poverty and patriarchy. In a scenes between two women – the dacoit Phulia and the Thakur woman Indumati – Phulia laughs at Indumati’s pretensions to belonging to a higher caste, saying that while men might belong to different castes, women are in a special caste by themselves – the lowest one, oppressed by every other caste.

What impressed me about Sonchiriya is its earnest storytelling. The film has many characters, but they all tie together to portray the struggle against oppression and corruption. Sonchiriya is a tale of rebels who have banded together against persecution, but it is also a story of a single good man, an underdog, and his quest to do the right thing, when the lines between right and wrong have blurred. The film has poignant moments when you really feel the desperation and abject misery of the characters. And then there’s the dark humor which masks the harsh reality underneath.

All the actors are absolutely fabulous, and make this intense, gripping film as gorgeous as it is. Kudos also to director Chaubey for making this beautifully atmospheric, homegrown Western.

Posted in 2019, bollywood, directors, drama, passes Bechdel Test, rating-PG13, recommended, social issues | Comments Off on Movie Review : Sonchiriya

Movie Preview : Kesari (releases 21st March 2019)

Kesari is a historical movie about the battle of Saragarhi (1897). It stars Akshay Kumar, Parineeti and per IMDB Bhagyashree (of Maine Pyar Kiya fame)!! I haven’t see any of director Anurag Singh’s previous work, so am crossing my fingers 🙂

Posted in 2019, bollywood, drama, historical, New Films, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Kesari (releases 21st March 2019)