Category: Movies & Entertainment (Page 1 of 7)

Mukkabaaz Review: Punches you in all the right places

In a scene typical of exasperated anger, the Mukkebaaz, holds his boss against the wall, uttering a dialogue while still crushing his own teeth, fist pointed at him as if he’s about to bury him in that same wall, shouting: ‘Jaante ho na hum kaun hain? Uttar Prades ke Mike Tyson‘. 

The plot of the movie is about Shravan, played amazingly well by Vineet Kumar Singh, trying to prove this to his parents, his coaches, the administration, his lady love, and anyone and everyone about his passion. In a scene where he confronts his father about his ‘Passion’ is reminiscent and relatable to the frustration that kids have with their own parents when trying to follow what they believe in.

Mukkabaaz is a beautifully stitched poetry of the hinterland’s caste/religious infested clenched fist from which no one can get out. The storyline captures it all in not-so-subtle hints. Be it Caste based discrimination, dowry, patriarchy and how infested all of it is, in the ‘administration’. It’s like a slap on your face, scene by scene, as you dive into the plot. 

But, don’t mistake this to be another ‘preachy’ indulgence of a movie, laced with typical Anurag Kashyap style humor and tight knit plot, this is an entertaining watch. 

Ravi Kishan shines for me in his limited role like you won’t believe! He’s held the character together with surprising sophistication that it deserved. Of course, Jimmey Shergill’s character is clearly the best written of the lot. An ultimate villian and man, that guy is evil in the movie. 

Vijender Singh’s first big break and he’s given his all. Not a frame goes amiss when you’ll find this guy not being at his best. One would expect him to ace it with the ‘boxing’ but where he’s better is his scenes with the leading lady, Zoya Hussain (who plays Sunaina Mishra). These two are testimony to the fact that you don’t need dialogues to make a love story work. Coz, boy, they nailed it. The girl does a good job of playing a mute who isn’t afraid and passionate like the guy she loves.  

If you’ve seen enough of Anurag Kashyap’s work, you’ll realize most of his movies work better because of the small role playing characters. The friend of the lead, the father, sister, wive(s), and what you’d refer to as the ‘supporting characters’ to the supporting cast. That’s the magic of a Kashyap film. To use these characters to bind together the fun part of his movies in such a way that the audience will remember all of them after leaving the theatre. He perfected this in Gangs of Wasseypur and here he’s used the same. 

One can also sense a lot of his personal angst coming out in the storyline through the different fribge narratives that he’s tried to unbox. Of all the things, he’s given meaning to a different ‘Bharat Maata ki jay’ chant. 

The music flows through the spectrum of pumped up rap, to folk and even poetically inclined. 

I found the cinematography quite different from the usual Kashyap offering by not being too dark and isntead full of colors. Is that a result of an Anand L Rai collaboration? Nevertheless, it still looks good. 

It’s definitely important to relate to the hindi hinterland’s nuances and lifestyle to connect more. Although I won’t make that as a prerequisite to watch this, but the length of the movie won’t affect you if you connect closely. 

I’ve loved the film and wouldn’t mind watching this again. It definitely climbs up the charts of one of the best movies of recent years. Go catch this in the theatres. 

Hum derahe Hain isko 4.5 Sitara rating. ‘Bhaarat maata ki jay’ kahiye aur theatre me dekh aiye. 

A few beparwah Thoughts

Looking up, while a song plays, the zig-zags of the birds make tiny shadows on the blue afternoon sky. I had never seen those shadows, before. Probably did, but never thought of it, unlike today. Maybe it’s this song. 

Paper planes we drifted off in an era gone by. Only this time they continued the spiral for a wee bit longer, as these birds fly themselves. The open door gave me a big window to view their flight.


“Beparwah.. rang ka jaaya..

Chitt laage ne.. main uktaaya..

Haal bayaan ho na haal bayaan..

Hona fakat hai fanaa..”

 While the song continued to play on. I put on a big smile. Involuntary. The song and the birds. The directionless joy complementing the lyrics. Describing the essence of exactly that very moment.

“Ranj ke sadqe ho gayi jaan

Dhadkan jaise dhuaan…

Naa.. labeya kuch

Na hal paaya..

Naaaa hai pata.. manzar na disha… “

Few things cannot be put in words. Not only emotions but viewpoints like these. While I reminisce the afternoons where I had nothing to do. The winter afternoons. Soaking in the sun. Waiting for the clock to strike a certain time to run past the gates to play. The anticipation of doing something. Waiting for the green light.

Today, there isn’t any. Just stares. Stares out of this door, into the abyss formed in my imaginary viewing pod.

“Pyaar hai dheh sa gaya..

Hai kadar kahan..

Mann hai yaadon a ek majmaa”

Retrieving the good memories and keeping the rest closed somewhere. The assembly of thoughts are being selective for their own selfish reasons. Apt. Nothing wrong in that.

“Na hai aata

Manzar na dishaa

Khaak hua hai kadar kahan”


The birds drift out of the view. Still in the sky, just out of my view. Out in someone else’s reveries. I continue to watch out for them, while the Blue sky remains the blank canvas of thoughts. Waiting!

Movie Review: Michael Madana Kama Rajan

Just watched Kamal Haasan’s Michael Madana Kama Rajan. Like, is there anyone who can can play multiple characters with such an ease? Even though I don’t understand the language, the tonal shifts in dialects with each of the characters are so perfect.

The basic plot of the movie is about 4 Quadruplets separated at birth. All played by Kamal (like, why not :P)

Even though this is a ‘comedy of errors’, every scenario is so thought of, that finding big loopholes is a rarity. Kudos to the writing (co-written by Kamal Haasan himself) and of course, the screenplay. The scenes are stitched together seamlessly. 

Like there’s this scene where 2 of the 4 Quadruplets meet and they’re standing near a mirror. Another character remarks, I can see 4 of you, now. I mean, subtle, huh! 

Illaiyaraja’s music is soothingly perfect along with the storyline where distinctive personalities get songs based on how their story develops. The picturization is so early 90s but it is fun to see Kamal Hassan dancing around 🙂 Also, the title song is sooo catchy. 

It’s a good comedy to watch. Lots of caricatures in the storyline but each fit into the plot and contribute to take it forward. My favorite being Kamaraj’s Grandmother-in-law.

Also, few of the scenes are definitely progressive and make light of things that could easily become ‘offensive’ in today’s India. 

‘Michael Madana Kama Rajan’ a good movie to watch and is available on Amazon Prime along with Subtitles. Go watch it.


Arjun Reddy Review: Intense, dark and a good watch!

Only a handful of movies stay for more than a day in the back of your head where characters continue to remain alive . The kind of effect synonymous with finishing the final page of a good book. I don’t usually write about non-Hindi/English movies, but this movie is probably going to be an exception. Or perhaps a start to writing regularly about subtitled movies.

I’ve usually avoided watching Telugu movies unless highly recommended (or stars Prabhas or Mahesh Babu). The stuff dished out from the state’s industry has remained mostly the same over years, refusing to come out of the action-packed-one-man-army-masala movie genre. Barring Baahubali, there’s been hardly anything good and different.


This movie, Arjun Reddy, has certainly changed my opinion.

The story is about, as the name clearly suggests, Arjun Reddy. Arjun is a 4th-year medical student who is a topper, college bully who is good at sports but has anger management issues. He’s about to drop out of college because this dude, of course, won’t apologize to his dean for getting his anger out on someone. But hey, a girl enters. Literally, as he’s about to submit the NOC of his departure. 

Their relationship starts off with him practically bullying her to be with him but she falls for him eventually. Because Movies! The plot is more about him coping with the breakup (Oh yes!) with moments of flashback on the ‘why’ of it.

The brilliance of the movie is hardly in the contents of the story but in the character universe built around Arjun Reddy. With a screen time close to 3 hours, each character grows as the story develops, while getting ample screen time. Nothing seems rushed to sprint towards the ending but is trying to pull the audience into its depth. The background score and cinematography match up perfectly to the pace.

Characters like Arjun’s friend, Shiva, played by Rahul Ramakrishna, are more than just sidekicks typical of Telugu cinema (or even Tamil). Bereft of even the male-bonding drama, which the usual stories seem to progress when trying to go in a different direction. Not that there aren’t any caricatures, but they are overpowered by well written roles. Must commend, the writer-director Sandeep Reddy Vanga for this.

The female lead, Preethi Shetty, played by Shalini Pandey is earnest and displays the emotional state of a scared, in-love and suffering, young lady as her character transitions through the journey.

The film, of course, hinges on Vijay Devarakonda who plays the lead and man! This dude is good. One can say the role perfectly fits him and that the writing was done keeping just this guy in mind. Not that he doesn’t display the antics of a ‘hero’ but this role demanded the tantrum-filled alcoholic to do just that. I’m actually looking forward to watching more of this guy based on this.

Arjun Reddy is not only an enjoyable watch but is able to pull you in a world created by the Director. The Background music and the songs (No song-and-dance) adds to the intensity. It is one of the good movies I’ve watched this year and you should too.

It is available on Amazon Prime (with English subtitles) if you’re interested to watch.


Lucknow Central Review: An underplayed prison drama that works

What can you expect from a prison-break drama? I mean what ‘unique story’ can you expect from one? Having watched quite a few over the years, I wasn’t looking forward to ‘Woah! That’s new’.

I wasn’t entirely wrong. The story is most definitely ‘an-innocent-jailed-trying-to-escape’ with a Hindi heartland story and a musical twist to keep you interested. But there is more to the Lucknow Central apart from the music and the obvious escape strategies. The underplaying of every character by all the actor is something unique about this movie. Not one or two, but almost the entire ensemble has made sure to keep themselves in check to not go overboard to the point that the first half buildup appears a tad bit slow apart from a few high moments.

Farhan Akhtar takes time to grow into the UP Bhaiya role he plays in the movie but as you progress with the plot, you realize maybe they wanted to play a low-key and grounded role, instead of an over-the-top-emotionally-draining role. The character is part-fun part-helpless, whose dreams are what every small town guy can relate to. Making it big. However, he still doesn’t outshine the slew of amazingly written characters of Ronit Roy, playing the jailor, and other inmates who plan to escape with him. This includes, Gippi Grewal, Deepak Dobriyal, Rajesh Sharma and InaamulHaq. Each of them putting their best foot forward in aiding the central character of Kishan, played by Farhan, by making a mark of their own. Credit definitely goes to the writing for well-written characters.

It was also good to see no romantic involvement between Kishan (Farhan’s Character) and Diana Penty who plays the role of Gayatri Kashyap, helping in prisoner reformation. Considering how Bollywood movie stories are written, this is a good change.

One scene where he walks next to the projector where they’re playing Amitabh’s Vijay Deenanath Chauhan is the right amount of epic. Same goes with many of the prison-drama scenes, the ragging, the gang-fights and the fun. Each of them characteristically giving you an insight into what goes on behind the jails.

Music isn’t overpowering the narrative and that in a way is a good thing. So are the dialogues.

Lucknow Central has a slow 1st half start and picks up towards the second half as the screenplay goes. However, the beauty of the movie is in the underplayed performances by its ensemble and some action-packed second half and a good climax.

Lucknow Central is a decent watch in the theatre for how it deals with a concept that isn’t alien to audiences and for its mature handling of the subject.

I’m going with a 3/5 for Farhan Akhtar starrer, Lucknow Central.


Baby Driver Review: The coolest film of the year!

Once you’ve watched Baby Driver, your definition of what you consider cool gets an upgrade. After all, it IS one of the coolest movies you’ll watch this year. I’m pretty sure, you haven’t watched it yet. But take my word for it: Watch it!

It’s unlike any other movie you’ll invest your time (and money) in. From an expression of awe, your jaw drops by a few minuscule inches with every scene. You laugh from one scene to another without having finished your first laugh. The music booms past your ear along with the car chase that essentially is core to the plot of the movie.

The story is about a young car driver, to put it humbly, working for a heist planner (Kevin Spacey) who creates plans and leave it to expert individuals who are good at doing this type of work. While our driver, Baby (yes, that’s his name), who’s a devil behind the wheels helps them escape. You should also hear the remix/mash-up tape of ‘devil-behind-the-wheel’ version that the baby driver creates.

Each scene is iconic in its own way. I’m not going to divulge any other details about the plot. The plot is essentially very basic and mostly momentum driven. It is the treatment that is wonderful. The amalgam of music with cars and the background story is a beautiful symphony being played on-screen.

It is one of those movies which you can shout ‘once-more’ at the end of it. Yes, it was that awesome. It is, actually.

Ansel Elgort is perfect as the baby driver with a hearing issue. Seasoned actors like Kevin Spacey, John Hamm and Jamie Fox are at their usual best.

Apart from the adrenaline rush of the action involved, which keeps you hooked onto your seat, the romance between Baby driver (Ansel) and Deborah (Lily James) give you the feels. Not overpowering and just the right amount. The dream sequences are classy.

There’s nothing that I can point in the movie which isn’t good. Sure, if this isn’t your type of movie then you might not find it to be as awesome as I did, but it is worth giving a shot. Edgar Wright, who has directed Scott vs pilgrims, and co-wrote Ant-Man, and screenplay for Scorcese’s Tintin is spot on here.

I’m going with a 4.5/5 for Baby Driver. Watch it! The devil behind the wheel will take you on a ride.


JHMS Review: When Harry and Sejal don’t meet a good story

I’ve always left the theatre a little confused after watching an Imtiaz Ali movie; always questioned whether I’ve liked it or not. There’d be something really good and something that just doesn’t make sense. But for the first time, I’m certain of how Harry met Sejal is. It is a badly conceived movie.

How I wished for a sad ending to make little sense of the story. But hey, the director assumes we all want a happy ending, right?

How I wanted a wee bit extra sadness, a little more pain to allow myself to feel as to why is Harry like this? For the puzzle to fit, on why Harry had to meet a Sejal, just doesn’t get answered! But that’s not the only problem for this movie. There’s just lack of depth in the story. Except in two characters’ chemistry. The only saving grace.

But how far do you think that can steer a story which is going nowhere but to the usual clichéd ending of most of Imtiaz’ movies. Sure, there’s a good dose of realism and few scenes just hit you real hard without being grand. The brooding Shahrukh is unmatchable and so is the ‘layak’ Anushka, both of them capture the nuance of their characters perfectly. But. Yes, and a big B.U.T. There’s just nothing else there in the movie! A couple of scenes, once-in-a-while, is all that’s good about the movie.

Being a movie where the tour guide is the main protagonist and the entire movie is shot in Europe, there’s hardly much of Europe that the lens captures. Maybe taking a leaf out of Zoya Akhtar’ ZNMD would have helped? But hey, Imtiaz wants to stick to his own formula of loving someone who is about to get married! How many more times should we be watching that same damn thing?

Songs get added to the movie out of no reason. There’s an entire addition to Harry’s colleague’ wedding, which is just not required. The only possible explanation for that is to make Shahrukh wear a turban and touch upon his ‘Punjabi roots’. A flashback on the same which doesn’t pan out into anything substantial again adds to the irrelevancy.

The story follows a boring direction which Imtiyaz has taken us on numerous occasions.

Shahrukh Khan embraces Harry and so does Anushka Sharma in being the Gujju-accented girl out to search for her ring. As stupid as the idea of her finding it across countries is how she finally ends up getting it back!

The script is stupid and if it weren’t for the two stars in the movie, would appear like written in a hurry. And it’s only because of them, I’m giving a 2 star to this film. Watch it only if you’re a fan or a weekend with nothing else to do.

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review: Visual Masterpiece where you’re left asking for more

Nolan’s Dunkirk follows a nonlinear storyline as it tries to deliver a war-story with a music that keeps you on edge a brilliant cinematography. And it does. However, with the absence of a central character in the story your itch to root for one character, like every other Nolan movie, remains unfulfilled. But perhaps, that was the intended tone Nolan wanted to give Dunkirk.

To make heroes out of the spirit of survival. In a movie bereft of one-liner masterpieces, when one soldier upon returning home explains, ‘All we did was survive’ ‘And that’s enough’ pat comes the reply.

Dunkirk transports you to the hauntingly beautiful war-torn French beach-town where 400,000 soldiers are stuck on the beach; trying to find their way back home while the Germans make sure to not let them drop their guard even once. Dunkirk is about the rescue, about the spirit of the people in times of war, the casualties that war brings with it.

Like every other Nolan movie, your attention to the screen is critical, not that you’ll be able to take eyes off, in following the non-linear storyline.

While there are character bits like the Air Force pilot in Tom Hardy, the makeshift rescue boat captain, the soldiers stuck on the island; each being true to their character, as an audience your investment in their character is limited. And that’s the only drawback from the movie. You appreciate how people understand each other without speaking. You see how war and calamity change people.

Dunkirk’s take on war is a listing of all possible reasons how war changes people, brings out the worst and the best in them. The questioning your own survival and the perceived notions of having failed your country, and yet being the hope of your countrymen even after you return after you lose.

It definitely is not Nolan’s best film, as some of the critics have been saying, but is one good war movie that you need to watch.

As far as ratings are concerned, I’m going with a 3.5/5 for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Watch it on the big screen. It’s a visual masterpiece where you’re left asking for more and yet you’ll love what you get.

House of cards season 5 preview

House of Cards Season 5 Preview: Homecoming of Terror

‘I DON’T CARE!’ as President Frank Underwood shouted in the house. And, damn! He looked like it.

House of Cards is back, Folks!

As the first episode unfolds through the shocking cliffhanger of the last season when the Underwoods did what’s expected of them. Yes, look into the camera and share their guts.The first episode has all the bang they needed to start this new season.

The calm ‘I-don’t care’ look on Frank Underwood’s face as he sat in the house while the Republicans shouted, says it all. This is followed by Frank literally snatching a newspaper article accusing him of crimes commited during his Vice-presidency from a republican’s hand and walking down to the podium to speak while a mafia style ensemble of Democrats walked alongside him.

He not only snatches the war-rhetoric narrative away from the Republicans but ensures his opposition squabbles for a differing narrative to oppose him. It’s the Homecoming of Terror after all!

Remember how his Republican opponent, Will Convay, raised the issue of him being soft on terror and then they ended up a meeting to play video games?

And yes, the Underwoods are back together. Claire and Francis. The partners in power are back in harmony. Creating Havoc all around? You bet!

To those who might have forgotten about previous season, here’s a season-wise recap of where the story stands as of now:

Warning: Those who haven’t watched the series yet, please avoid this recap. Spoiler Alert!

House of Cards (Season 1): Season starts off with Frank Underwood being denied the role of Secretary of State as he was promised and ends with him becoming the Vice President. Exhibits of how to maneuver political players as well as Journalists without them knowing and becoming the beneficiary.

House of Cards (Season 2): From Vice President to, wait-for-it, the POTUS Itself. This season focused on how corporate clout indirectly governs a country. Foreign influences, Deals, favors, betrayals and frank’s political games.

House of Cards (Season 3): From President without having to be voted for to someone who now would have to actually win an election. A tumultuous journey of skeletons in the cupboard and the partnership with Claire going sour are the highlights.

House of Cards (Season 4): Francis and Claire’s fight, her mother’s death and then thanks to one journalist’ effort, all secrets coming out in the open. Alleged, we’d say. Time to divert attention? Terrorism is the answer.


I’m paraphrasing in 1-2 lines and that itself seems so much. There’s so much more to the show than just this.

However, the show is mostly Kevin Spacey! The man is the center of it all and undoubtedly the biggest factor in the show is a hit. How do you not like his ‘in-the-camera’ talking to you?

Coming back to the first episode, the show takes forward the diverting tactics of the ‘fight against terror’ and plays on the idea of how states use the fear factor of the mass to drive down agendas with this narrative. The season promise to take on a lot of tricky international political issues and give us a sneak peek into the background of it all with a good dose of drama. Typical Underwood style.

Given the present political climate, one can also expect potshots being fired through the show. But that’s just my guess.

The shows beauty lies in the shift of characterizations. From a typically theatre-like performance of Frank Underwood to the nuances of American politics wrapped in drama.

What I also love about the show is they don’t shy away from exploring a characters’ dimensions and there’s always a way to bring them back. Unless they get killed by Underwood. What’s the count again?

To those who have been awaiting this season in India, Frank Underwood is coming to India with the television premiere of House Of Cards Season 5 on Saturday, 3rd June, 5 PM onwards, only on Zee Café! Also, share your thoughts on social media using #HOConZCafe to discuss with everyone else who’ll be watching the show along with you.

TV shows

While binge watching another season of “The Good Wife”, one particular episode intrigued my professional curiosity. If I may say so.

The TV series, The good wife, is a court-drama and the lead is arguing on a case related to Search Engine optimization or SEO! Of course, apart from feeling a little extra excited, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the writing. They made sure the technicalities of SEO were accurate to the T. Especially when this particular season of the show was aired in 2012!

You know those ‘hacking’ scenes they show in movies and how they are just not accurate. I usually considered, by default, most of those as a dumbed down version of what actually happens! 

Television writing for most of American Shows is crisp and intellectually engaging. Not all shows work for everyone, but the quality of Television writing is axiomatically brilliant.  Even the blink-and-miss characters are pretty well-defined. 

At least the writing on Indian Web-series has started picking up if not the Indian TV, which continues to be the same. But maybe we’ll skip the ‘Television’ altogether just like most of India jumped to Mobile phones before Landlines could spread their wires across. A very unusual comparison, but why not ? 

Thankfully, Internet isn’t censored as our Television or Films are; and with numerous investments from YRF to Balaji, along with the existing TVFs and AIBs, can breathe in a something exciting in terms of writing. 

Which show are you hooked on to ?


The Salesman and other Subtitled Films

When watching a subtitled film, one hardly tends to miss out on a dialogue. Perhaps that’s why most of them, thanks to our unconditional attention, leave us with a varied set of emotions.

Although it’s true that I’ve mostly watched ‘recommended’ ones and most of them seem to have turned out well.

Today, I happened to watch ‘The Salesman’ by Asghar Farhadi. The Iranian film which got nominated for Oscars.

The film has floored me with its approach to storytelling and I’m trying my best to compare it with a style but not able to. The story is a suspense drama which keeps you intrigued. The twists are so beautifully moulded in the narrative that there’s no change of tone required for the story to unfold like the usual suspense-dramas with ‘the’ climax. And maybe that’s the beauty of it. One needs to absorb the expressions, palpable anger, contained trauma which makes you anxiously worried.

The backdrop did remind me of how Khaled Hosseini writes and blends the timeline of Afghanistan’s history into his characters. In Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, does that but very subtly and you can even miss it, if you don’t have the slightest notion of what it entails. This pseudo-similarity can be termed absurd on the account that most stories of the region will share similar sensibilities. And anyway, I’m not claiming to be an expert after watching just one film.

There’s a definite contrast when you watch a subtitled foreign film and the regional Indian ones. The concept of a ‘hero’ in a story is so essential.

But let me not jump to conclusions here and make it a ‘review’ when it’s not. I’m still not able to write a review for ‘subtitled’ movies even when I regularly watch a few Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada ones. Without the dialogues, I still feel there might be something lost in the translations.

Or maybe I’m wrong here. And hopefully someday will add a few of those to the Blog.


Oscare nominations 2017 The Hidden Figures

Applauding the Hidden Figures

I was watching “Hidden Figures” few days back, before the Oscars, in a bid to finish off all the nominated movies in the category. And I did finish all of them.

And I liked all of them. Yes, a few of those are my favorites, but they all were good.

The reason I mention this particular movie is, it blew open a new thought in me. The story is about 3 Black women working at NASA who rise against all odds and succeed. Even with the system designed in a manner which can deter anyone. It happens to be a true story and is so commendable that this inspiring story was told.

From segregated washrooms to a separate coffee container, to not being able to attend college along with the superior “whites”, were just the tip of the iceberg of discrimination that loomed large in America at that time.

While their story has to be applauded and the inspiration used to structure even more people to rise even further, I’ve had this question since watching the movie. The question is, “What if they would have failed?”

Would this story still inspire others to strive for the standards of greatness? To work hard and achieve something? To contribute to something substantial?

Would people have tagged them as “Just not good to compete”?!

The struggle for them to rise above those challenges are substantial and there can be so many of those other stories that might have never been glorified. We care for something only when it succeeds, when it doesn’t, it just doesn’t pique our interest.

Applauding an effort is equally important. We might not be able to put those in metrics, but maybe one extra applaud might help in pulling someone up, who has lost hope of ever making it.

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