Category: Movies & Entertainment (Page 2 of 7)

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.

Oscar nominations 2017 Manchester by the sea

Academy Award nominations 2017: Review of all the Oscar Nominated Movies

The Oscar 2017 is just a few hours away. Unlike other years, where I watch these after the award ceremony, I tried my best to finish at least the Oscar Nominated movies (Best Film Category).

Each of these movies are good in their own right. I do have my favorite of it all, which I’ll rank at the end of this post.

So, here they are, 8 Oscar nominated Movies, with their short-reviews and in no particular order.

The Hidden Figures:

In the backdrop of a time when USA’s space agencies were fighting the space race, the country had racism embedded in its system. Even the country’s top minds working at NASA were not untouched by it.

Oscare nominations 2017 The Hidden Figures

The story is about 3 Black Women mathematicians, working at NASA, who are brilliant but the system doesn’t give them the ‘space’ to grow more than what they currently are. Even when they visibly excel in doing what they do. While one woman struggles to complete her work because she has to use the washroom which is a mile away on the other end of the campus and she being black, cannot use the same ones as the other ladies. Another woman who is due promotion based on her work is not able to break the ceiling and similarly another is interested in joining the engineering team but cannot do so with her current degree and the required degree is not available in a college which allows black woman.

The characters played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe are representations of the racism at that time and the portrayal is brilliant. 

Even though the struggles vary in their own, the underlying theme is of how these women overcome these issues and make themselves heard.

Ably supported by Kevin Costner and Jim Parson, the movie has some amazing insights into that era. Watch it for the uplifting real-life story.

Hell of High Water:

The movie is about Bonding. Two brothers, played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine, bonding over a series of robberies they carry out to save their ranch they lost to a bank. Two Sheriffs, one half-Red-Indian half-Mexican, played by Gil Birminghim, and the other, a typical cow-boy played by Jeff Bridges, trying to crack these series of robberies.

Oscare nominations 2017 hell-or-high-water

This movie is like the yesteryear’s’ cowboy confrontation. The battle, between the two, builds up through hell and ends on a calming high. The idea of “hell or high water” or to push to achieve, no matter what it takes, is what drives both the brothers-in-crime and the sheriffs.

The story exposes a lot of things along the way. The ageing sheriff’s push to go with his instincts and inability to see sense in his partner, the varying forces which drive the brothers to go on a robbing-spree and a lot of male-bonding along the way.

Watch this movie for a classy cow-boy feel with a no-nonsense story to accompany it.

Hacksaw Ridge:

I must admit that I’m not a fan of war-movies and yet I found this to be an entertaining watch. Probably this was more about the conviction to stick to one’s value-system than giving in to the demands of the war. Not to mislead you, this movie sure has some of the most gory-war blood-bath scenes like all others before it.

Oscar nominations 2017 Hacksaw Ridge

The movie is about a devout Christian Desmond Doss who believes that he does not have the right to kill anyone but joins the US Army to fight the Japanese. The struggle to make his fellow soldiers, his superiors and even the judges at his Court Marshall is what makes the movie stand out.

With a good ensemble cast to go along, Andrew Garfield, brings out a sensitive performance while playing the protagonist who is adamant to not even pick up a Rifle.

Watch it if you’re a war-movie fan. Watch it even if you aren’t one. I’m sure you’ll like it in parts.

Arrival:

Arrival as a plot has a lot of similarities with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, although not too complex like it. It appears to be a cross-section between the sublime Interstellar and a tad-melodramatic Martian. Capturing similar genres of space-cum-time-travel, Arrival is entertaining nevertheless.

Oscar nominations 2017 arrival

Arrival banks heavily on its lead, Amy Adams, to anchor the story. The curiosity build-up, thanks to the interactions between our lead and the “aliens”, retrenches your attention. You’re always on, “what’s more to it, than this?”

The plot centralizes on a world where 12 UFO’s have landed on earth and naturally scared the world powers of the time. There’s a temporary cease-fire agreed upon before attacking the Aliens. Meanwhile, Amy Adams, who happens to be a language expert, becomes part of the team that will try to get a response to the ultimate question, “What is the purpose of your visit?” from the Aliens.

Apart from Amy, we also have, Jeremy Renner, who appears to be just another spoke in the wheel even though he does enjoy ample screen time.

Arrival throws up questions, about empathy, and perhaps that was the purpose of it, however without the investing performance from Amy, this could have easily fallen flat.

Cinematography is particularly interesting and breathtakingly raw, which makes it believable.

Arrival is entertaining, however, it misses out in threading plotlines with casting, which this story definitely deserved.

Watch it for the sheer joy of Amy Adams bring to life the story, all on her own.

Fences:

There are very few father-son movies which are THIS real and bereft of melodrama than fences. In a never-before-seen avatar of Denzel Washington, this movie hits you in small bouts of realization much after it is over. It is as real as it can get.

Oscar nominations 2017 Fences

In one particular scene, Denzels friend, Jim, playe, say Stephen Henderson, “Some build fences to keep people out, others build it to keep people in”. This right here, sums up the philosophy that the movie tries to project. The entire movie has been shot inside one such fence.

Denzel plays a father working hard to make ends meet, week-after-week, bringing-in his paycheck to support his wife and kid, and a son from his previous marriage. He is a typical dad who is trying to push others to not make the same mistakes he did and the lessons he gained as a black man in a white-dominated-world where they live. As expected, this becomes a cause of conflict with his son who wants to play football. Going by this, you’d assume it’ll be like the hundred-odd-movies that talk about dreams, reconciliation and how to take inspiration out of it. Fences is different. Not in its story, but the treatment and the layers it touches and unearths with each scene. One conflict at a time.

The question of whether it is love that binds families together or a sense of duty is the central theme that Denzel, the director tries to help us ask!

The ensemble is brilliant. From Viola Davis putting in a wonderful performance to Denzel Washington acing it in the shoes of a tough father, the movie is filled with heartfelt performance.

It brings in a sense of reality and talks about racism and issues concerning the Black community at a family-level.

Moonlight.

There is a sense of nostalgic addiction we have with certain places, time and the people we spend it with. They stay with us over time and shapes who we are. Moonlight captures the journey of a child with troubled childhood, finding solace in the company of a friend, being betrayed and how it shapes up his life.

Oscar nominations 2017 Moonlight

Moonlight works in parts, part disconnected, part getting its story heard without shouting, and mostly in the silent stares. It talks about the difficulty of coming out as Gay and how without the support of a family, it gets even difficult. It also talks about troubled childhood, drug addictions and seeking an identity for yourself in a world of unknowns.

The plot takes shape on how a young Chiron lives with a drug-addict mother who cannot take care of him, and is visibly bad at it. He meets a father-figure in Mahersha Ali , who tries to help him get through  difficult childhood before the struggling teenage years begin. The movie is about the three phases of Chiron’s life and his coming-of-age to become a man.

The best parts of the movie lies in its silences where the characters speak more. Special mention for Trevante Rhodes, playing the older Chiron, for an amazing performance.

Watch this to feel the struggles of a child confused about his sexual identity in a difficult neighborhood and the how it makes us feel.

 

Lion:

Lion, based on a real story, hauntingly captures the emotions of a young man’s life who yearns to get back to his mother and brother. Evoking this on the screen, with a solid performance by Dev Patel, has been done brilliantly by director Garth Davis.

Oscar nominations 2017 lion

The longing and emotional outreach of a kid who got lost and adopted by an Australian couple is a story that will work for any audience. Lion takes you to the start of the story, on how the kid got lost, and doesn’t add up any surprises on its way. What it does well is, brings out the thought-processes of each of its cast.

The young Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar, puts you in his shoes all along the journey and the able photography depicting the sad reality will scare you.

You come to know of why the adopted parents of Saroo (Dev patel), played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, decided to adopt and even at the expense of difficulties associated with raising adopted kids, they were ready for it.

The journey of Saroo’s life is filled with people who try to exploit him and the people who support him, including his on-screen girlfriend played by Rooney Mara, and each of these characters project and represent ideas in themselves that vary with great length.

Watch it for the amazing performances and a real-life story capturing the struggle of a kid who lost his way home.

La La Land:

A musical from Hollywood? Well, yes, there aren’t many in recent years and probably makes La La Land stand out.

Oscar nominations 2017 la-la-land

The plot is about a girl-meets-boy, both struggling to make it big. One is trying to make as a jazz player and the other as an actress. One gets a break and things get weird, expected? How this affects their relationship and how they come together to change it, is what La La Land is all about. However, this being a musical, there’s of course more to it. It is about the moments in-between. The songs, the cinematography, the costume and all-of-together in a story that flows like music.

The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma stone is like a hot knife on a butter. Smooth.

It isn’t something you’ve not seen before but it is the treatment and the ability to connect with the audience is what makes La La Land special.

Watch it if you’re a hopeless romantic who lives by collating small moments in life.

Manchester by the Sea:

This is easily the Best movie at the Oscars this year. Tragic and Sad, and yet so real. Casey Afleck makes you connect with the distraught and tragic protagonist of this story, liking no one else could.

The movie is about a family. A family that was. Two brothers, one diagnosed with cancer and his wife leave him and his son. Another brothers’ wife leave him too. Why? Since it comes in the later part of the movie, I’ll not spoil it for you.

The movie doesn’t centralize itself on this, but on the emotional state of its characters, who are trying to deal with these emotions, in their own way. How death changes people and how people deal with these emotions, is what the movie is all about.

The movie touches a wide range of emotions without putting an extra effort. It is very real and believable.

It is that kind of sad movie which you’ll love to watch, drain out your emotions and connect with your own family. Watch it!

Now, that you’ve read all the reviews, my favorite of them all is, Manchester by the Sea. Although, I do have a feeling La La Land might win.

Which ones did you like ?

Raees Movie review

Raees Review: It’s worth a few whistles

There’s a scene in Raees where Shahrukh Khan beats up a “Saeth” while he was watching an Angry-young-man-avatar of Amitabh on screen,  where Amitabh is seen beating the “always-evil” Prem Chopra!

Raees’ storyline also reminds you of those Masala entertainers from the 80’s with multiple sub-plots infused in it. The bad guy isn’t actually “bad” but is a Robinhood at heart.
Raees Movie review
Raees is entertaining,  no doubt. But it relies heavily on the performances of Shahrukh and Nawazuddin, without which the movie fails to take-off in the second half. It just doesn’t hit the levels you’d expect it to. The build-up in the first half for the ultimate clash between Raees (played by Shahrukh) and Majmudar (played by Nawazuddin) is exciting and laced with amazing dialogues. But as the film develops it just tries to fit-in a little too much and strays away.
Watching Shahrukh in one of his best performances is definitely a treat. He essays the role of a bootlegger businessman delivering catch-phrase dialogues with a sense of charm that only he could have. It’s hard to find a frame where he misses the beat. Be it in the over-the-top action sequences where he’s bad ass and just cannot tolerate anyone calling him a “battery” or his “jugalbandi” of sorts in confronting Majumdaar Saaheb. Or being romantic with the leading lady, Mahira Khan, Shahrukh nails it with perfection.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as always, delivers in his character as the Cop whose mission is to stop Raees. He’s a no-nonsense cop who belts one-liners and knows how to be funny. Scenes with Nawaz and Shahrukh are the highlight of the film. While Shahrukh adds in the masala, Nawaz keeps it grounded.
Background score and the Music of the film has and old charm like the cinematography. The eye for periodic detail by Rahul Dholakia (director) is visible but the screenplay falters as the story develops. Dholakia struggles to find the balance between fast-paced drama and touching character subtleness.
The movie is largely about Raees and Majmudar, and Dholakia ensures that it remains so. However, in an attempted push for commercialization, the beauty of numerous nuances get lost. The conflict which Raees undergoes after a gunaah ,he commits or how Mahira (his wife) consoles him post that or even the relationship between his partner-in-crime Siddique (played by the talented Mohd. Zeeshan Ayub) are the mis-hits. And these are the details that make you feel, something is amiss.
Another problem which the film faces is the “need to make” Raees the good guy, especially towards the second half.
Raees is a good movie which suffers the curse of the second-half but still survives thanks to Shahrukh and Nawazuddin. Watch it for the performances and the dialogues which are worth a whistle.
I’m going with 3/5 for Raees. Go entertain yourself.
Swades_ye_tara_wo_tara

Ye Taara, Wo Taara

One of the inspiring examples of cultural assimilation is this song from Swades.

Ye taara wo taara.. har taara..
dekho jise bhi lage pyaara”

This song is a pivotal point and a concluding suggestion to the problem the lead character is trying to solve. The problem of convincing families in villages to send their kids to school. The lead character visits 4 different families with varied issues/excuses for not sending their kid to school.

While the village heads outrightly reject the idea of “hamare bachchan aur unke bachchan ke saath?!” quite rhetorically. The other families have child marriage, poverty, child labour to carry on the family occupation and “ladkiyan kya karengi itna padh likh ke?”. 

The film was made in 2004 and there’s hardly a doubt that things have drastically changed since then. A visit to any village will introduce you to girls being married off before 18. And the ones who aren’t, are made to “learn household chores”. I mean, do they have to learn some form of martial arts? Otherwise this doesn’t make sense at all.

The whole idea of “ladki ki shaadi karwani hai” has been made into a Mount Everest to climb in our societies! But then why wouldn’t it be ? When even educated folks demand for dowry for marriage. Some of them might even be reading this post as well.

The nuances that Swades touched and brilliantly depicted deserves some introspection. Has anything changed ? Or will it ever be ?

The song ends with kids playing together.  Each from different caste and sensibilities. Together.  Is that a ray of hope? Or these kids also be moulded by the “tradition”? 

zaira waseem meeting J&k CM

The Zaira Waseem Controversy: Why the fuss?

In an age where a tweet reply by a celeb can become, “This celeb gave the perfect response to a troll” and at the same time whatever happens in rural India doesn’t even make the front page. Zaira Waseem trending all-day on Twitter and other social media timelines do not surprise me a bit.

But let’s go back a little. Shall, we?

I can add ten different “Did you know” news items from rural India, and it’ll perfectly fit the title.  We only like news, that’s trendy. And of course, we’re supplied the same by the media as well. You and I might think that those “noisy” TV debates can be avoided, but a sizable audience loves to watch just that. The News Channels won’t go by our opinion which will get branded as “elitist” for some reason, but will go by a more tangible (of sorts) metric called TRP!

As far as the digital medium is concerned, Buzzfeed-like headlines are a hit. It gets them the clicks. And “You won’t believe what these guys use as headlines,” but it works! Touche.

Now, lets come back to Zaira Waseem. The poor 16-year old who was bullied and is now the talk of social media and eventually the newsrooms. Yes, that’s how the flowchart works. If it gets attention on social media, it finds a place in the prime-time News debates.

Last evening when I read the apology issued by her, I was baffled! I mean what did this kid do? Did any Mufti issue another useless fatwa? Did anyone threaten her for acting in films? What happened?

I dug deeper and found out; she got trolled for meeting the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.

She had every right to meet whomsoever she desires, and if someone has an issue with that, it is their own. There’s just no argument on that. It is sad that she had to pen down an “apology letter”!

But the problem doesn’t end there!

The problem comes when people want others to toe the same line that they think is right. In this case, it may be not to be friendly with the Chief Minister whom they believe didn’t do anything for the people of Kashmir!

You can turn the table and place any issue, and the reaction of the “troll” brigade will be the same. Take Beef Ban for instance. People want to govern food choices. People want to dictate what one should wear or when one should stand up. Do you think, they’ll let this one get away?

Even though this incident is nowhere compared to what happened to other Bollywood actors who decided to open their mouth, yet this being done to a 16-year old is wrong.

And to the sympathizers, who seem to have woken up now, to add this to the list of, “But what about Malda”. Everyone can see through that.

For Zaira Waseem, more power to you. Never think that you are not a role model. Women in India, need more role models like you. We have a history of not letting them being born in the first place.

TVF Humourously Yours Review

TVF’s Humourously Yours: Not A Review

The Viral Fever Videos, or the TVF as they are better known as have hardly ever disappointed when it comes to good content. They are everything that we want our TV to be. They’ve taken Youtubing to another level in India. Pitchers, Permanent Roommates or even the Tripling, have all become our favorite web series. Each of these had plots that echo well with our sensibilities. Be it the aspiration to be entrepreneurs like in Pitchers or making relationships work in Permanent roommates or Tripling.

But what makes Humorously Yours, different?

It takes us backstage and shows the drama behind a Stand-up comedian’s life. And it isn’t like Sienfield’s “a show about nothing” and has a lot of TVFisque elements to it. The perfect wife, the (super)asshole friend who’ll always be there for you and the fantastic slice of life metaphors that run throughout the show.

The lead character, Vipul Goyal, is funny on stage. But a lot goes into making those jokes funny. How real-life humor transcends to the stage and in a comedian’s material, is an exciting journey. The show is loosely based on Goyal’s life and has just two other main characters, Vipul’s wife Kavya (played by Rasika Duggal) and friend Bhusi (played by Abhishek Bannerjee, the “Tu Beer hai..” guy from Pitchers).

Humorously Yours features a few other standups now and then, right from the introductory scene.

Humorously yours sits right at the top of TVF’s content and notches above anyone else.

With each episode running for just over 30 minutes, season 1 got over today. You can binge watch it today and show up late to office. It’ll be worth it.

Watch it on TVFplay.com. It’s not on TV. It’s TVF.

The Youtube Tamasha

When there’s no TV at your place, you end up scanning through Youtube quite often. And when I end up clicking the “trending” tab, my immediate reaction is, “Why am I even looking here?!”.

Anyways, there are a ton of things that you end up discovering when you’re hanging on Youtube. Yes, some amazingly addictive Youtubers whom you love to follow and await their videos to get uploaded but at the same time, a lot of unwanted gibberish also flows through the network.

Sure there’s good content original generating channels which we all are big fans of, like the TVF for instance. Or others like AIB, SnG comedy, East India Comedy and the likes. Of course, there are quite a few which makes you wonder, are we going back to TV and making this just extra sleazier to get the eyeballs.

One of the most irritating ones are these “Prank channels.” Yes, the kind where they assume they can get away with anything, just because they have a camera in hand. If you thought the guy seen kissing and running off in Delhi was bizarre, you’d be shocked to see what others are upto. It is great that this fellow got arrested and it might help in stopping the flurry of those channels. These channels are like the “Item numbers” in movies. Not required but just because people watch it, they are there.

Shockingly these channels have thousands of ardent subscribers. The number of subscribers shocks me more than these channels itself.

It takes a lot of effort to create these videos. I’m sure. Why not do it for something more relevant, than asking people “Do you look at a guys’ junk ?” to girls on the street or “What do you look first in the girl?”!

If generating clickbaity videos is what you’re good at. Don’t you think there are other “better” sites for that?

Jaane wo kaise log the

Yesterday I shared one of my all time favorite, “Jinhe naaz hain hind par, wo kahan hain ?“.

Sharing another one, “Jaane wo kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyaar mila” from the same movie, “Pyaasa”.

The beauty is not limited to the song but how before the mukhda begins, a sort of prologue to the song. Like it was a story in itself.

Humko apna saaya tak.. aksar begaar mila..

Hamne to jab kaliyan maangi.. kaanton ka haar mila.. 

I clearly remember the first time I watched Pyaasa, I took my Dada’s shawl and draped it like Guru Dutt and tried my best to sing this. Walking in front of the mirror, holding out my arms on the corners of the door, and being at my gloomy best.

The lyrics of the song, written by Sahir Ludhiyanvi, pierce through you. Especially, since the nature of the song-format is such that every word has a clarity, giving meaning to the scene. And of course, Guru Dutt, the legend at his very best.

I’d request you to take some time and watch this gem of a movie, Pyaasa, If you haven’t. It not only is Guru Dutt’s best but also has some of the best songs of that era. Thanks to Sahir Ludhiyanvi.

Jinhe naaz hai hind par wo kahan hain ?

Whenever I watch any of Guru Dutt’s classic, a question pops up in my mind, always!

How did we reach to what we’ve been watching now, considering many other of his classics were released in 50’s!

Anyways, I could go on and on about Guru Dutt, but that’s for another day and needs a lot more detailing.

Today, I just wanted to share this video of “Jinhen naaz hai Hind pe wo kahan hain?”. Of course, I’ve shared this on multiple occasions and I never get tired to watch or share it again. This is my attempt to make his films reach new audiences.

“Madad chahti hai ye hawwa ki beti..
Yashoda ki hamjins, Radha ki beti..
Payammar ki Ummat.. Zulekha ki beti..
Jinhen Naaz hain hind pe, wo kahan hain?”

Sahir Ludhiyanvi simplified his original, “Chakley” to make this reach out to the masses for the film, “Pyasa”. To think how much our new-age “filmmakers” have to dumb-down content makes me laugh at what they did in 50’s!

The song although just captures the life in Kothas amidst red-light areas can be easily transported to any setting to ask, “Jinhen naaz hai hind pe wo kahan hain ?”

And it’s not just about the beauty of the song but the less over-powering music by SD Burman and the visible pain in Guru Dutt’s eyes and the adaegi .

How I wish to be born in times when he was alive.

 

Kapoor and Sons Review

Top 10 Bollywood movies for 2016

Here’s my list of top 10 Bollywood movies for the year 2016!

Bollywood had an average year as far as blockbuster successes are concerned. But I am happy that most filmmakers tried to come up with something new. Hope to see more of that effort work its way in 2017 as well.

[Here’s last year’s list of Top10 Bollywood movies]

10. Udta Punjab:

Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab brings parallel stories converging onto the drug menace in punjab. With powerful performances from Alia Bhat, Shahid Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh, this movie, even with a few glaring issues gets the message across.

9. Sultan:

Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan is a film made with a big heart. Even with melodramatic freedom that one can expect from a Salman-starrer, the film was an entertaining love story with wrestling as its backdrop. One of those rare Salman Khan movies where you see him making dedicated effort. Also starring Anushka Sharma, Sultan was a family entertainer.

8. Dear Zindagi

Reema Kagti’s Dear Zindagi belongs to Alia who shoulders the movie all on her own. The vibe that this girl brings along is magical, the therapy sessions in help, not only Alia but the Audience as well. Shahrukh Khan plays an extended cameo which definitely adds value to the film and anchors the movie to a feel-good tag.

[Here’s a detailed review of the film]

7. Ae dil hai mushkil

Heartbreaks are the USPs of a good love story. Add a dose of unequivocal love as the central theme and you have a story that clicks. Ae Dil hai Mushkil does just that. The time when the hero leaves with his bag, as firecrackers burst in the sky, with teary eyes and an Arijit Singh song in the background. You get the picture, don’t you?

It will be very MUSHKIL for your DIL to not like this.

[Here’s a detailed review of Ae Dil hai Mushkil]

6. Aligarh

Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh brings out one of the best performances this year from manoj Bajpai. The movie talks about the real life issue of Homosexuality and how an Aligarh professor was suspended after a sting operation. With the amazingly talented Rajkumar Rao playing the role of a journaist who befriends Manoj in the movie, this film was powerful.

5. Parched

Leena Yadav’s Parched, on the outset appears to be heavy “art” which might put off a lot of viewers who don’t watch similar content. However, the movie even when touching dark and grim topics, keeps tight on an engaging storyline. The three female leads, Radhika Apte, Tanishka Mukherjee and surprisingly Surveen Chawla, do a phenomenally good job.

4. Neerja:

Ram Madhvani’s Neerja is an amazingly crafted Biopic that brought to light Neerja Bhanots story to light. I’ll admit, I just don’t like Sonam Kapoor. But in Neerja, she definitely impressed. Shabana Azmi, as Sonam’s mother, just wells up your eyes with her sincerity to the role.

3. Dangal:

It’s an Aamir Khan film. Enough said. Right from the start when the trailer dropped, it looked awesome and it sure was. The detailing in terms of wrestling and culmination of numerous issues in the framework of wrestling was beautiful. The young actors portraying the Phogat Sisters on whose life the film is based were the true heroes of the film. Director Nitesh Tiwari has done a fab job.

2. Pink

Pink is a movie which makes you think not just while you’re watching it unfold but is also something which remains with you long after you’ve left the theater. It’s a must watch for all men, all women, and even the grownup kids to realize why “NO means NO”. It strikes hard where it should.

[Here my review of Pink]

1. Kapoor and Sons

Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons was a flawless emotional adventure which is filled with some amazing light hearted moments that will press the nostalgic buttons in your head and make you laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, it’s perfect. I even ended up giving it a 5/5. For me this was 2016’s best movie.

[Read the detailed review of Kapoor & Sons here]

Special mention: Akshay Kumar’s Airift

And when we finally got our SRK back in Fan

And of course the amazing MS Dhoni on-screen

Which of these were your favorites ? Let me know in the comments.

dear-zindagi-review

Dear Zindagi Review: It’s a therapy for all

Dear Zindagi is about finding life. A free life. A life Kaira (Alia Bhat) needs but doesn’t know where to find. She’s confused and complex like any other girl and refuses to let anyone in. The story tries to simplify the complexities of her life by making her ask the right questions to it.

The fact that Alia clearly over-shadows even Shahrukh in the movie speaks volume of the amount of talent she has. The vulnerability of her character through various stages of life oozes out, along with a multitude of other emotions, all of it very real.

The story is about relationships. In one scene where Alia laments in front of her Psychiatrist( or Dimag ka doctor a referred in the movie), that she’s never going to find anyone in life. Shahrukh remarks that why do we put the strain of everything on that ONE relationship? Why cannot we have a relationship for our varied emotions? This is the essence of what the film wants to talk about. That there’s more to  Zindagi than breakups or finding that “one”.

Dear Zindagi covers a lot of ground by covering the “Log kya kahenge?” part, apart from relationships with parents, siblings, friends and of course the variety of “Chairs”. (You’ll get this when you watch the movie).

Of course, you do end up with mixed feelings due to the range of questions that pop up in your head, which makes you question the narrative occasionally. Especially when you realize that everything centres around Kaira and her Zindagi. But then, this is her story. And only her Zindagi.  And that’s where Gauri Shinde’s story bounces back ad you try to fit it all together.

SRK anchors the character of Dr. Jehangir Khan with the ease and elegance with which he gives out his interviews. He underplays the character with such depth that you don’t feel anyone else could have done better.

Characters like, Jacky (played by Yashaswini Dhayama) and Fattu (played by Ira Dubey) also bring a natural charm and playfulness to the story and vivacious friendship. The character of Ali Zafar (who plays RUMI) is something that has been written really well. The story also has Kunal Kapoor who adds his own charm.

But in the end, Dear Zindagi belongs to Alia who shoulders the movie all on her own. The vibe that this girl brings along is magical and with Reema’s direction, the therapy sessions in help, not only Alia but the Audience as well.

I’m going with 3.5/5 for Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi. This slice-of-life film is a therapy for mature audiences. If you’ve liked movies like Kapoor & Sons or Piku or Gauri’s other movie English Vinglish, then you’ll definitely like this one as well.

force-2-review

Force 2 Review: Nothing works except the action

One particular scene straight out of counter-strike, where John Abraham beats up the baddies while constantly exchanging guns as he runs out ammo, is amazingly well-shot. This POV-sequence can make you feel as if you’re in control. Apart from this, there are quite a few seriously good action scenes spread across the film.

Alas! That’s all the good stuff that one can talk about this movie. The soul of this movie lies in action and it hardly moves an inch beyond that.

The storyline allows Force 2, the sequel to the John Abraham-Genelia starrer Force, to bring sub-plots within the main plot. However, in an attempt to do so, they deviate from the central plot.
John Abraham’s friend who happens to be a RAW agent gets killed and like the usual practice, government disowns him. Now, John is out there to catch the man who orchestrated it all. However, you never feel the angst of the hero to take revenge from it. Although there is a lot of effort invested by John and is clearly visible. The reason Force worked because of the “revenge saga” and that ultimate fight between John and Vidyut Jamwal.

There is no need of Sonakshi in the movie. Literally no need of her. You can eliminate her from the film and there won’t be any effect on the storyline. I bet you can cut out the scenes from the movie and it’ll still be the same. Not that she doesn’t act well but she’s as useless to the plot as any Vestigial Organ is to the human body.

While it is important to develop the character of the villain to make things interesting, just lending screen time does not mean doing that. Going by the image of our “Mumbai police” no-nonsense approach of John, it is baffling that he can listen to so much blabbering and not smack the hell out of him. At least as an audience, I felt like smacking him to make him shut up! In the prequel, Jamwal’s character made the role his own. However, in this case, Tahir Bhasin, couldn’t add that extra dimension to his character.

The movie has been shot well and is worthy of a good action movie. But you so wished they would have tightened the plot. Even though the movie isn’t very long, the presence of multiple storylines fitted into it,you’ll end up feeling it’s too much.
The force sequel isn’t worth your money if you are not an action movie fan. Unless you can watch a movie for its action sequences, you can definitely skip this one.

I’m going with 1.5/5 for Force 2. An extra .5 just for action.

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