Movie Review : Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)

Rating : 2.8/5
Genre : Romance
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 25 minutes
Director : Akshay Roy
Cast : Ayushman Khurana, Parineeti Chopra,
Kid rating: PG

This film’s review can be summed up thusly: the trailers were better than the actual film. Quite a bummer because my expectations from this film were so high!

Abhimanyu Roy (Khurana) is a successful B-grade hindi horror novelist, penning “classics” like “Chudail ki choli”. When he decides to write a “quality” romance, he ensconces himself in the parental home, and overcome with nostalgia while listening to an old mix-tape, looks back over the events that have shaped his life. Thus, we are introduced to his next door neighbor, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Bindu Shakarnarayanan (Chopra). Abhi has been smitten with Bindu from the day he laid eyes on her. Reciprocative feelings are hard to discern because flighty, ditzy Bindu knows not what she wants.

Khurana plays Abhimanyu to the T, Parineeti not so much. Although I can’t blame Parineeti really – she is a fine actress. Her character itself felt like it had no depth. We do get to see snatches of her personality and her thought process, but I didn’t really get to know her. Was she just your garden-variety self-centered extrovert, or was there more to her? I couldn’t tell.

Ergo, this does not work as a love story. I’m firmly in Abhimanyu’s corner, and feel for his fragile heart, but I see not the tremulousness of effervescent love etc. Much ado about nothing. The emperor hath no clothes. I could go on.

We didn’t need this film. And I say this with some regret: the film was well made, it went back and forth in time, and put together the story through colorful vignettes. Some scenes and songs (like the one below) were done so movingly, but alas, the emotion behind the imagery isn’t conveyed. The characterization (or lack of it) sinks the film. It’s hard to feel for narcissistic strangers. So, waste not your time trying.

Kidwise: Clean.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, rating-PG, romance, touchy-feely | Comments Off on Movie Review : Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)

Movie Preview : Lucknow Central (releases Sept 15th 2017)

Lucknow Central stars Farhan Akhtar, and directed by Ranjit Tiwari, who’s assisted on movies like D-Day. The film looks gritty and interesting, although time will tell 🙂

Posted in 2017, bollywood, New Films, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Lucknow Central (releases Sept 15th 2017)

Movie Review : Mom (2017)

momMoviePosterRating : 3.5/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 26 minutes
Director : Ravi Udyawar
Cast : Sridevi, Sajal Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna, Adnan Siddiqui
Kid rating: PG

Sridevi is Devki Sabharwal, a busy teacher, wife and mother juggling her responsibilities. When step-daughter Arya goes missing en-route home from a late-night party, Devki is breathless with panic. Arya is found, bloody and beaten, but in the aftermath of that tragic night, is even more withdrawn from Devki’s ministrations. The perpetrators are set free by the toothless justice system, while Arya is unable to get on with day-to-day life. And there is nothing Devki can do about it.

Mom is yet another film about sexual assault in the National Capital. It is a tale of revenge, as meted out by the victim, the law and order system having failed. Thus Mom is predictable. It is also Sridevi’s film, through and through. The other actors acquit themselves well, Nawazuddin in particular as Daryaganj-based detective Dayashankar Kapoor, but this film is a vehicle for Sridevi, not that she needs one, versatile actress that she is.

Pakistani actor Adnan Siddiqui plays Sridevi’s husband but his character appears weak and ineffectual when compared to her’s. Sejal Ali, the young actress playing Arya does well; we’ll probably see more of her. Akshaye Khanna is his usual dashing self, all blue-jean-ed and leather-jacket-ed in his Inspector-wala role. Were that the Indian police force actually had inspectors like him 🙂

Mom is well-crafted, and movingly told. It was not as good as Pink, because you are not as involved in this predicament as you are in the one in Pink. Maybe its because Pink’s victim is a strong-willed, courageous protagonist, and Mom’s victim is more passive; it is her mother who has the courage and the guts to do something about the injustice.

On the cons side, I’d say the emphasis on Sridevi takes away from the film’s story. Also Mom’s story is a bit fantastical, what with the straight-laced teacher suddenly becoming an expert in sleuthing and breaking-and-entering.

While I liked Mom, I’d say it’s a decent one-time watch.

Kidwise: Adult situations, although nothing too grisly is depicted on screen.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, rating-PG15, social issues, suspense, women | Comments Off on Movie Review : Mom (2017)

Movie Preview : Toilet – Ek Prem Katha (releases August 11th, 2017)

If you search the web, you find many articles on the lack of proper toilet facilities in rural India – especially for women. This is the subject for this romantic tale. It stars Akshay Kumar and the much-slimmed-down Bhumi Pednekar, who has a penchant for picking interesting films – you might remember her from the lovely “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, humor, Previews, real-life-based, social issues | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Toilet – Ek Prem Katha (releases August 11th, 2017)

Movie Review : Bahubali2 (The Conclusion)

Rating : 3.5/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 47 minutes
Director : S. S. Rajamouli
Cast : Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj, Tammanah Bhatia, Nasser
Kid rating: PG

Now that we’d see Baahubali – the Beginning, the husband and I decided to see Baahubali 2 in the theatre when it released. At our local AMC, when the cashier asked for $71 for the IMAX show, we thought there’d been a mistake. No, she said, each IMAX ticket was $35. The non-IMAX ticket was $25. Now, we’ve seen films like Avatar in IMAX at regular ticket prices, so this was a surprise, an inexplicable one. Apparently, the film-maker had requested these ticket prices. Long story short, we saw the film much later :), once the frenzy (and the ticket prices) had died down.

Bahubali – The Conclusion takes up where Bahubali 1 had left off – Shiva’s discovery about his birth and past. This film is mostly dedicated to his revenge against the evil and powerful rulers of the kingdom of Mahishmati. There is pomp and splendor in each scene, as the director tells us, in flashback, the tale of the great Amarendra Bahubali (also played by Prabhas) and his downfall as plotted by evil brother Bhallaldev (Rana Daggubatti). There is lots of warfare, with grand armies lined up complete with trumpeting elephants and charging soldiers. As in part 1 director Rajamouli displays amazing vision, and gives us awe-inspiring and stunning visuals. It is all beautifully done.

Many of the characters from the first movie continue on here. Anushka Shetty is brought in as Royal Princess Devasena. There is much song and dance as romance ensues, but it all comes to a thundering climax with all the drippy, over-emotional sentimentalism of a desi film. As justice is done (and you know that it will be done) each moment is drawn out and the impact hammered in via pulpy slow-mo, and just as melodramatic dialogues. The average sounding songs don’t help much, not that I was watching this for the songs.

Inspite of all that, as far as epic Indian films go, this movie is the bomb. I don’t think I’ve seen any other Indian movie with this kind of sci-fi-fantasy-ish vision, and the incredible attention to detail. Bhansali comes close, but director Rajamouli is in a class by himself.

Baahubali 2 succeeds because it is a lavish visual spectacle, supported by a handsome and talented cast. This is how quasi-mythical films need to be done, albeit without the sentimental melodrama that plagues the desi film-scene. Recommended.

Kidwise: Violence of the slashy sword variety.

Posted in 2017, directors, drama, fantasy, historical, recommended | 2 Comments

Movie Preview : Jab Harry Met Sejal (releases 4th August 2017)

A not so clever pun on “When Harry met Sally”, which is a very different story, this one stars Shahrukh as Punjabi Harinder, and Anushka as Gujarati Sejal Shah. Looks cute. And it’s directed by Imtiaz Ali. High hopes etc.

There is a whole series of trailers. Apparently, this is a thing now.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, directors, Previews, romance | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Bahubali (The Beginning)


Rating : 3.8/5
Genre : Historical
Year : 2015
Running time : 3 hours 17 minutes
Director : S. S. Rajamouli
Cast : Prabhas, Rana Daggubatti, Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj, Nasser, Tamannah Bhatia, Anushka Shetty
Kid rating: PG

Bahubali came and went and we heard of how great it was from a friend who’s an unabashed Rajnikanth fan. Ergo, I dismissed it. Years later (really, one year later) when Bahubali 2 was coming out, and Bahubali was on tv one day, the husband and I actually watched it. Pretty decent really, but read on.

Bahubali stars Prabhas as Shiva, a super-strong, if naive, village lad. He lives with his adopted parents, who had rescued him as baby, afloat on the river. Shiva spends his days, traipsing around doing manly things, i.e.; lifting heavy Shivalingas for his mom. Surrounded by beautiful nature and mountains, Shiva, on one of his many jaunts, follows a beautiful wraith up a mountain and discovers a whole new world up there. Along with discovering (pun intended) aforementioned beautiful wraith Avantika , Shiva now finds out many surprising things about his past. With this new found knowledge, he has an overwhelmingly difficult goal to accomplish. Is he up to the challenge?

Bahubali is a “period” film, of kings and their kingdoms, of faith, family, fealty and betrayal. There’s lots of emotion, drama and some cringeworthiness built-in; the men are broad-shouldered and smoldering with machismo, and the women outwardly rebellious, but inwardly simpering. The film is shot on a spectacular scale – large, lavish sets, lots of computer generated effects and grand vistas. There is meticulous detail, be it in the furnishings, finery or the design and workings of battle-field weapons. This is not your mom’s Ramayana.

The film has a rather handsome and talented cast. Prabhas plays the main character of Shiva aka Bahubali, and he is good-looking in a doofus-y kind of a way. In this film, he seems relatively fit and well-muscled, but in Bahubali-2 you see his propensity to go to pot, not unlike other Southie heroes (Arvind Swamy etc.). Rana Daggubatti, the other kingly figure in this period epic, has been seen earlier in Hindi films like Dum Maaro Dum and Baby. Then there’s the accomplished Nasser in a negative avatar, and Ramya Krishnan, as powerful Queen mother Sivagami, lights up the screen with her fire-and-brimstone spewing dialogues. Tamannah Bhatia plays Avantika, a rather feeble rebel, succumbing easily to Shiva’s charms.

Bahubali for all its hi-tech wizardry, definitely had Southie touches, like scenes where all the extras seem to emote alike – everyone’s shaking their heads in sync as though thinking the exact same thought at exactly the same time! Then there were the romantic scenes, with the exaggerated sighs, simpering and coyness. Also, and this is not just limited to Southie films, the men are portrayed as just, virtuous warriors but with built-in sexism (mucho thanks to great Indian culture).

This was an entertaining film, from a director with vision. Recommended.

Kidwise: Some cringily done romantic scenes, but nothing too troublesome.
Recommendations if you liked this film: Jodha-Akbar, Bajirao Mastani

Posted in 2015, drama, historical, rating-PG, recommended | 1 Comment

Movie Review : Dear Zindagi (2016)

Rating : 3.5/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 30 minutes
Director : Gauri Shinde
Cast : Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar, Angad Bedi
Kid rating: PG

Dear Zindagi is a coming-of-age, “growing-up” film. The heroine Kaira (Bhatt) is an adult, who is a decently successful cinematographer in Mumbai, but personal satisfaction eludes her. How she “grows up”, forgives and moves on is what “Dear Zindagi” is about.

Lately Hindi cinema has become a lot more interesting telling tales which are not just love-stories. However we still don’t see too many Bollywood movies talking about “mental baggage” to any depth. I’d imagine most adults carry some of it around, and it impedes us from fully exploring and appreciating life. Kaira is one such adult who seems high-functioning on the outside, but on the inside she, afraid of commitment and the fear that happiness is fleeting and not truly meant for her, sabotages any chance at it.

With personal and landlord problems, Kaira decides to go live with her parents in Goa for a while, but even there cannot shrug off her dissatisfaction with life. By chance, she hears psychiatrist Dr. Jehangir Khan (Khan) talk at a mental health conference, and decides to go visit him professionally. Will Dr. Khan, with his unconventional ways, be able to help Kaira?

Alia Bhatt is pretty fantastic as always, and Shahrukh Khan is better than usual. Dear Zindagi is a decent watch, but a bit of a let-down coming from Gauri Shinde, of English-Vinglish fame. It is clear that this film is about Kaira and her personal travails, but Dear Zindagi doesn’t quite connect as it could have. Maybe it’s the “wide-spectrum” approach, not letting us hone in/focus on one aspect of the problem. It’s like the film-makers didn’t have clarity on their message; thus they can’t quite communicate it to us. There is so much to Kaira, or any young adult in similar circumstances, that it needed a finely delineated script to gather it all up and present it to us neatly packaged into 2.5 hours. Alas, “Dear Zindagi” does not have that script or screenplay.

This is still a good watch, with melodious music, including a remix of the old “Aye Zindagi, gale laga le” song. The actors in this film acquit themselves well. I only wish they had had better direction.

Kidwise: Clean. The touchy-feely subject matter might be too heavy for the younger ones though.
Recommendations if you liked this film: Tamasha, Dil Dhadakne Do, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Posted in 2016, bollywood, drama, rating-PG, touchy-feely | 1 Comment

Movie Review : M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story (2016)

msdhoniRating : 3.9/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 20 minutes
Director : Neeraj Pandey
Cast : Sushant Singh Rajput, Kiara Advani, Anupam Kher, Disha Patani, Kumud Mishra, Rajesh Sharma
Kid rating: G

I hadn’t expected much from “M.S. Dhoni”. So I’m pleasantly surprised that it was such a good film – well-told, interestingly spun and engaging.

It is, as the title says, about Dhoni – early life to his success. We do get unexpected information about a private tragedy – information apparently not made public until the film came out. The romance is played out per Hindi film rules. Dhoni gets a just portrayal, a man with integrity and leadership qualities. A man with many friends. It was also quite heartening to see the strong support system he had – from family to friends to co-workers.

Sushant Singh Rajput is a talented and versatile actor; his many quality films (Kai Po Che, Shudh Desi Romance) lie in evidence. I do think that he lacks a certain oomph – I can’t see him being picked to do a suave, chocolate-hero kinda role. That very “everyman” quality serves him well here. He is Dhoni (although the long hair which looks great on the man himself, looked awkward on him). I appreciate the character more because of Rajput’s valiant effort.

There are films without a story (the majority), and there are films with a decent storyline (the minority). This is one of the latter. MS Dhoni is fairly predictable, because you probably know about Dhoni already, but it is still interesting because it gives us an intimate look at Dhoni’s life, his various trials and tribulations and how he overcame them. It makes this very public personality’s life personal. This film had heart, and good intentions, and it delivers on them.


Kidwise: Clean. Family-friendly.
Recommendations if you liked this film: Lagaan, Chak De India, Iqbal.

Posted in 2016, All Netflix, bio-pic, bollywood, drama, family-friendly, Hindi movies on Netflix, rating-G, real-life-based, recommended | Comments Off on Movie Review : M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story (2016)

Movie Preview : Raabta (releases 9th June 2017)

Raabta’s trailer promises an interesting story – rebirth/time-travel maybe? I’m being optimistic with the time-travel hopes, of course 🙂 . This is the first directorial venture for prolific film producer Dinesh Vijan, who’s run the gamut from producing tasteful crowd-pleasers like “Love Aaj Kal” to revenge dramas like “Badlapur” to the not-very-great desi zombie drama “Go Goa Gone”. The film stars gorgeous Kriti Sanon, the up-and-coming Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao and the yet unknown Jim Sarbh.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, drama, fantasy, New Films, Previews, sci-fi | 1 Comment