Movie Review : Badrinath ki Dulhania (2017)

Rating : 3.65/5
Genre : Romance
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 19 minutes
Director : Shashank Khaitan
Cast : Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Sahil Vaid, Rituraj Singh, Gauhar Khan, Shweta Prasad
Kid rating: G

Here’s another film of the “ki Dulhania” series from the same director and the same production house. This is better than “Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania” though because it’s more forward looking and less trite.

Vaidehi Trivedi (Bhatt) is an opinionated spitfire from Kota, and Badrinath Bansal (Dhawan) is the bratty scion of a rich orthodox sahukaar from Jhansi. When Badri sets eyes on the lovely Vaidehi, he is immediately smitten, and makes plans to make her his bride. She won’t have him however because : a)She has an unwed elder sister b)Badri’s dad wants a dowry which Vaidehi is against. Badri promises to fix these 2 problems, and Vaidehi promises him marriage in return. Just when it looks like things are looking up for Badri, the unexpected happens.

Badrinath ki Dulhania was an entertaining film. There was nary a dull moment what with the lively leads, foot-tapping music and the fast pace. This film took a typical romance and brought it, so to speak, into the modern world, by challenging orthodox customs. Vaidehi, a smart small town girl, is paired up romantically with an uneducated boor (this was also how it was in Humpty Sharma). This beauty-and-the-beast scenario does gets tiresome after a while (especially on-screen), but it apparently arises from raising offspring in the traditional “Indian” way – we get smart daughters and uncouth sons.

I liked that the director had approached the problem from a young person’s point of view. The relationships seemed real, and the friendships moving. Alia’s and Varun’s characters were very well-fleshed out. Vaidehi’s leaps towards freedom, and Badri’s gradually changing mindset was believably portrayed. Yes, in real life, mindsets do not change as rapidly, but I’m willing to give them that, considering that is a commercial film and all. Sail Vaid played Badri’s childhood pal, and there were some nice moments showing the great bond they shared.

Badrinath is a rom-com with a twist. It’s not full-fledged war on the patriarchy, but this movie does blare the feminist horn in its own way. It is a bummer, that the budding of an actual relationship between Vaidehi and Badri happens in law-abiding Singapore, because were it in India, the storyline, and I say this half-sarcastically, would have to account for goons kidnapping the uppity woman and stringing her up to the nearest tree, to protect their “honor”.

The film rolls to a predictable end; the director gives the desi junta what it wants – a sundar, susheel, sanskari bahu who’s willing to tolerate the loutish ghar-ka-chirag. This movie picks easy targets – a 10th class pass hero who “needs” to mature, making the incorrect assumption that education = maturity. It does not. For the next film in the series, can we a) Have a pairing of equals b) Get off the “ki dulhania” title; women are not property.

Kidwise: Clean. No suggestive dance moves, no innuendo-laden dialogs.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, feminism, rating-G, romance, social issues | 1 Comment

Movie Preview : Phillauri (releases March 24th, 2017)

A Punjabi love-tale involving a ghostly spirit, Phillauri stars Anushka Sharma (who is also the producer) and Diljit Dosanjh. Seems decent and comedic. The only downside to this is Dosanjh, who I have trouble seeing as a hero. Anushka, however can pull a film all on her own – we saw her do this in NH10 (where she was also producer), so maybe she’ll be able to do this here too.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, comedy, Previews, romance | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Phillauri (releases March 24th, 2017)

What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #29

Sairat (Marathi, 2016)

I’ve watched Marathi movies before, but they are generally non-commercial social-issue based/bio-pic dramas. Sairat is a semi-commercial venture – it has become the highest revenue grossing Marathi film of all time. And well-deservedly so – it is a perfect and very entertaining balance between a non-frivolous drama and a love-story. Yes, we’ve seen tons of love-stories, but this love-story is a cut above the rest.

Archana Patil (Rinku Rajguru) is the daughter of the rich village landlord, and Prashant Kale (Aakash Thosar) is the son of a poor fisherman. Prashant, or Parshya, is in love with Archana. Archana, or Archi as she is popularly known, is headstrong and willful, and because of her father’s status in the village is able to boss folks around. To even look at wealthy, upper-caste Archi is anathema, so Parshya’s unrequited love does not bode well for him.

Rajguru and Thosar are not professional actors, and they come across like a breath of fresh air. Director Manjule has beautifully developed their characters in the film, and we can’t help but root for the purity and honesty of the emotion on screen. Manjule does a fabulous job, and the screenplay, cinematography are equally excellent. I have to mention the soundtrack here because this is some of the best music I’ve heard recently. In the soundtrack there are very earthy, ethnic sounding songs like catchy “Jhingat”, but then surprisingly, there are also songs like “Yad Lagla” (embedded below) which have strong Western classical vibes.

Sairat is one classy film. Highly recommended.

Posted in 2016, 2017, All Netflix, film festival, marathi, Netflix Recommendations, outstanding, rating-PG13, recommended, romance, social issues, WhaTWON | Comments Off on What To Watch On Netflix Instant – Edition #29

Movie Preview : Badrinath ki Dulhania (releases March 10th, 2017)

Is this Humpty Sharma 2.0 or a whole new film all on its own? Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt star in similar looking avatars; Dhawan probably has the dumb act down pat :). Looks entertaining though!

Posted in 2017, bollywood, directors, masala, Previews, romance | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Badrinath ki Dulhania (releases March 10th, 2017)

Movie Review : Rangoon (2017)

 photo rangoon_zpsjo2wmcms.jpg
Rating : 3.2/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 36 minutes
Director : Vishal Bharadwaj
Cast : Shahid Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan, Richard McCabe
Kid rating: PG-15

In Rangoon, Vishal Bharadwaj does a Bhansali, i.e.; he creates a long and sprawling film which badly needs editing, however he appears to be so in love with the footage that he is unable to get rid of any of the 2.5 hour long material. Rangoon could have been cut by atleast 45 minutes, and you and I wouldn’t even have noticed. There is love, betrayal, angst and drama in the film but it comes only in the second half. The first half of this historical is used to set the stage, but oh-so-slowly!

Julia (Ranaut) is the leading lady of black and white films. Her mentor and lover is Rusi Billimoria (Khan). When Billimoria is exhorted by General Harding (McCabe) to let Julia do a few shows for the British Army (this was pre-independence), Julia sets forth under Harding’s escort, specifically being guarded by Jamadar Nawab Malik (Kapoor). Love triangle, capiche?

Rangoon’s characters are fictional (although Julia seems to be based on Fearless Nadia) but the events around them are real. It is set in the 1940s; the Indian National Army (INA) led by Subhas Chandra Bose is gaining strength with Japanese help, and the British are trying to thwart its movements and funding. Julia, Rusi and Nawab are sucked into this political struggle, albeit on opposite sides.

Kangana is her usual tremulous self; she always seems to do well in these slightly eccentric roles. Shahid looks a little smug as the mustachioed Nawab, and Saif fits in nicely as the dashing Billimoria, all slicked back hair and glittering eyes. There is decent character definition, but I thought that the love thing between Julia and Nawab came about a little abruptly.

There was a time when Bhardwaj films (Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey) were instant classics – smart, well-told, engrossing tales. However, lately, and by that I mean the last few years, Bharadwaj seems to be losing his touch. Rangoon, in spite of its considerable star power is slow and meandering. It does get its act together somewhat in the second half, but by then it has sapped you of your will to live :-). Also, it seems kinda un-subtle, cut-and-dried, almost like Bharadwaj doesn’t want us to think too hard. Whither the mystery, the subtext, the things left unsaid? The poor music doesn’t help.

All in all, Rangoon makes a decent one-time watch; just temper your expectations before you step into the theater.

Kidwise: Gory violence, splattering blood and heads being lopped off with swords. Also intense love-making scenes, and a surprising amount of Kangana’s bare skin.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, directors, drama, historical, rating-PG15, romance | Comments Off on Movie Review : Rangoon (2017)

Movie Preview : Rangoon (releases February 24th, 2017)

Vishal Bharadwaj’s new offering starring Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Kangana Ranaut.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, directors, drama, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Rangoon (releases February 24th, 2017)

Movie Review : Madaari (2016)

 photo madaari_zpswzxek0gt.jpgRating : 3/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2016
Running time : 2 hours 13 minutes
Director : Nishikant Kamat
Cast : Irrfan Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Vishesh Bansal, Tushar Dalvi
Kid rating: PG

Madaari is kind of like “A Wednesday” because it also features a hero who wants to punish the corrupt. Here too it is a lone wolf, ordinary commoner Nirmal Kumar (Khan), who’s taken an extraordinary step – kidnapping the Home Minister’s son – to force the powers-to-be to listen to his demands. The Home Minister calls in the experts and the investigative agencies, and it’s a cat-and-mouse game. Will Nirmal Kumar get his justice?

This is a passable film, mainly because of Irrfan Khan, who is an amazing actor. The film, which for the longest time is devoted to the search for the missing boy and his kidnapper, should have worked like a thriller, but is kinda dragged out and slow-paced. In the film, we do get to see Nirmal’s personal anguish, and Khan does remarkably well in portraying his grief. He really is the backbone of the film; without him, Madaari would probably have disappeared unseen into the background.

Jimmy Shergill, the other should-have-been-pillar of this film plays Nachiket Verma, a higher-up in one of the investigative agencies, and the one spearheading the search. His character seems incapable of catching his prey despite the bold promises he makes and Shergill himself appears stilted. Vishesh Bansal plays Rohan Goswami, the little boy who is kidnapped, and does a fairly decent job, given that kids in Hindi movies are almost uniformly annoying.

When you look at this film post-watch, you aren’t floored by it, but it wasn’t bad either. It had the potential, but didn’t offer up anything new or innovative. Madaari (madaari in Hindi is a street performer who trains monkeys to do tricks) does attempt to show the unholy nexus between Indian politics and governance, and the way the common man is getting shafted, but when have we not seen that before? The fighting-against-corruption/vigilante justice theme isn’t new anymore, and if employing this theme, there is a necessity to take up a new tack or angle to stand out. Unfortunately Madaari doesn’t do that, so it’s ho-hum. Been there, seen that.

Kidwise: Some potentially scary themes implying dangerous situations, and harm to kids. Some violence – gunshot wounds etc.

Posted in 2016, bollywood, drama, politics, social issues, suspense | Comments Off on Movie Review : Madaari (2016)

Movie Preview : Jolly LLB 2 (releases February 10th, 2017)

The sequel to Jolly LLB but with Akshay Kumar, who doesn’t have quite the acting chops Arshad Warsi has. Human Qureshi co-stars, and the wonderful Saurabh Shukla makes an appearance. Director Subhaash Kapoor directs this one too.

Posted in 2017, bollywood, directors, drama, Previews | Comments Off on Movie Preview : Jolly LLB 2 (releases February 10th, 2017)

Movie Review : Raees (2017)

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Rating : -1/5
Genre : Drama
Year : 2017
Running time : 2 hours 41 minutes
Director : Rahul Dholakia
Cast : Shahrukh Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Narendra Jha, Zeeshan Ayyub, Mahirah Khan, Atul Kulkarni
Kid rating: PG-13

Shahrukh Khan is Raees, a poor little street-smart urchin who grows up to be a powerful hooch smuggler in “dry” Gujarat. His RobinHood-ish life is interrupted by various police skirmishes, and intermittent romantic episodes with the neighborhood beauty Aasiya (Mahira). I think this film was meant to portray an awe-inspiring picture of a modern-day golden-hearted don (think Amitabh in his angry-young-man phase), but it fails miserably; Raees is an almost 3 hour long piece of garbage.

The movie has no structure, continuity or even a remote relationship with any story. It is so haphazard, that one wonders if the filmmaker built it up on the spot, swayed by the mood of the day. The characters are as shallow as roadside puddles. Characterization is absent. To call Raees superficial is to be kind. I am amazed that this poorly made movie has been directed by the director of Parzania, or that Farhan Akhtar is co-producer.

Surma-eyed SRK is bearded which lends him an almost rakish handsomeness; and that’s about all I can say for Shahrukh. Mahirah is beautiful, and in her, SRK might have found an eyebrow-wiggler to match. She tries desperately to emote in the standard one-size-fits-all love-interest role. I wish someone had told her that there really wasn’t scope; all that was required of her was to smile, simper and deliver the odd supportive dialog. Still she tries, raising one eyebrow while tremulously dropping the other.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is pretty decent as bold, brash policeman Majmudar. But even he, that valiant actor, can’t do much for this pathetic excuse for a film. Zeeshan Ayyub plays Raees’s right-hand man and does well. Atul Kulkarni (as Raees’s first employer), Narendra Jha (as mafia-man Musa) and Sheeba Chaddha (as Raees’s mom) round up the supportive cast.

The movie’s lack of a distinctive score is a major problem. Each plot-event is accompanied by the dhan-ta-dan beat of an 80s flick. I was nostalgic, and not in a good way. The songs are passable; Raees features a well-done remix of “Laila, mein Laila”.

I hold that in this day and age we shouldn’t have to watch regurgitated trash from the 80s. So, in writing this review I am done with my good deed of the day. Be warned and stay away.

Kidwise: Lots of killings, gun violence, spattering blood. Raees gets pretty gory at times. In one scene Raees is shown murdering another character by gutting him in the throat with the stem of his wire rimmed glasses.

Posted in 2017, action, bollywood, drama, rating-PG13, stinker | 1 Comment

Best Hindi Films of 2015

10. Bajirao Mastani

The grandeur and beauty of this film was quite something. While I wasn’t totally floored by this film, it was quite the visual spectacle – Bhansali made sure of that.

9. Badlapur

Badlapur was a violent, gory film with Varun in a very different, un-choclatey, un-comedic role from the ones he normally picks. Here he plays a man driven by murderous revenge, a need so great that nothing can stop him.

8. Tamasha

Tamasha was angst and anguish out on display, beautifully portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor’s haltingly hesitant hero. Deepika, in her fine performance, serves as the trigger which is Ranbir’s undoing in the film. Quite stunning to behold.

7. Baby

This Neeraj Pandey directed thriller has Akshay Kumar essaying a role he could do in his sleep, that of an intelligence officer in a covert operation named “Baby”. It is engrossing, and a nice spare procedural. Baby also stars Taapsee Pannu and Rana Daggubatti.

6. Dum Laga Ke Haisha

The unwary lad’s foray into matrimony turns into a nightmare when family members force him to marry Sandhya, a woman he cannot contemplate taking on as a life partner. Ayushmann Khurana and Bhumi Pednekar are wonderful to watch in this sweet, simple, moving film.

5. NH10

The feminist film of the year, NH10 draws attention to the lack of women’s safety in the national capital (and elsewhere), and to the archaic, khap-driven, traditional rules of honor which still dictate whether they live or die. Anushka Sharma and Neil Bhoopalam star in this hair-raising, tension-filled drama.

4. Dil Dhadakne Do

Zoya Akhtar’s feel-good drama about family ties, love and loyalties. It stars her brother Farhan, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Anil Kapoor and Shefali Chaya among others. Drama, romance, comedy, humor and some foot-tapping music made this the all-in-one entertainer of the year.

3. Piku

The story of a father and daughter’s nitpicky relationship, and a journey involving emotion (and motion), Piku focussed on Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padrone, Irrfan Khan and the digestive tract. Beautifully wrought and moving.

2. Masaan

Society’s traditional order is crumbling not just in urban cities, but also in rural small towns. Masaan tells us of this via two parallel stories – that of Devi (Richa Chaddha) who’s fettered in by “good girl” morality, and Deepak (Vicky Kaushal) who’s trying to rid himself of the barriers the caste system imposes. The fabulous Sanjay Mishra stars as Devi’s impoverished father.

1. Titli

Titli’s titular character, played by Shashank Arora, is trying to make his way in the world, by leaving his greedy, grasping, lowlife family far behind. When he gets anchored by an unfortunate marriage, wife Neelu brings in her own set of complications. Ranvir Shourie also stars in this unpredictable, surprisingly violent film.

Posted in 2015, Best hindi movies, bollywood, comedy, crime, directors, drama, feel-good, feminism, humor, lists, outstanding, recommended, romance, social issues, suspense, thriller, Top 10 | Comments Off on Best Hindi Films of 2015