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M Cream (2014)
M Cream Review: Sex, Drugs, but Not Much Rock N Roll
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 1.5/5 stars
It's bemusing to see how Director-writer Agneya Singh hit all the right notes with his characterization, yet keeps missing the mark with his story arc and narrative flow. The biggest problem with M Cream lies in the indecisiveness of what he wants to show. What begins as a road- trip to find a famed-magical hash in a mystical land whose very existence remains a mystery, keeps making detours to political grievances, activism, rural issues faced by villagers, and stanza after stanza of life lessons being imparted through endless preaching.
For a movie about being cool and hip and trippy, M Cream is way too preachy. Everything from the Tibetan crusade to deforestation to Gandhism is touched upon without anything reaching any sort or real purpose. It's like the kind of reactions you'd expect if you'd try and have a logical discussion with an actual stoner lots of half- baked replies and topics cut short because of the other party zoning off. If that was the aim of this film, then it certainly scores a home run. But, a movie, unlike a stoner's life, needs proper direction and purpose, even if it's based on stoners and hash.
At the end of it all, M Cream scores points for its characters, performances, Mingjue Hu's cinematography (Dharamsala and its neighboring areas seldom looked this beautiful), and novel concept. However, for a film that touches upon a unique premise, it just comes across as an idea that's trying to break free from mainstream clutches rather than actually standing out. It's neither a fun film like Pineapple Express or The Big Lebowski nor does it make pertinent statements like Udta Punjab or Hare Rama Hare Krishna. M Cream just makes a lot of noise without actually saying much.
Dhilluku Dhuddu (2016)
Dhilluku Dhuddu Review: Scary and Funny in Parts, Lacks Punch Overall
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 2.4/5 stars
Santhanam, who's quite popular among Kollywood fans despite usually playing the hero's friend or comic relief, is back as a lead hero after Inime Ippadithan, which did find considerable favor among the audience. In Dhilluku Dhuddu, the funnyman may not have the best script to back his rib-tickling skills and pleasant screen-presence, but he more than makes up for the sluggish screenplay with his charm and effortless humor, able to evoke at least a mild chuckle out of the most forceful and drab comical elements.
This time he plays a staunch disciple of the deity, Muruga, who decides one day to go for a vacation to an outlandish bungalow, with his fiancé, Kajal, and their families. Once there, strange occurrences begin to occur, and both the families quickly get embroiled in a sticky scenario, which not only leans toward the supernatural, but also offers many comical situations, whether intentional or intentional.
The plot is quite flimsy and has been done to death in previously similar horror-comedies, but Rambala's direction keeps things moving along at a decent pace, ensuring that you're moderately engaged in proceedings. Rambala perfectly understand Santhanam's strengths and exploits them to full advantage. However, he could have easily done away with the over-the-top, glorification shots of Santhanam, and instead paid more attention to making the romantic track between the lead pair look more natural. In fact, the first half has way too many unnecessary heroic entries, which detracts from the actual narrative quite a bit. It's only after the interval that the film picks up steam and things start falling into place. This is where Rambala's and Santhanam's combined talents come to the fore, and they manage to salvage Dhilluku Dhuddu just enough to make it passably engaging fare.
Where the movie scores is in its one-liners, with Santhanam getting to mouth some cracking and hilarious punch-lines, which should appeal to both the classes and masses. He's also shown great improvement over his last film as a solo hero, and it's to his credit that he carries the weak script and some of the other actors on his shoulders. His romantic interest, the debutant Shanaya is pleasing to the eye but needs considerable work on her dialogue delivery before she can be considered for more-important rolls in bigger films. The other actors fail to leave a mark.
Dhilluku Dhuddu also benefits from Deepak Kumar Padhy's cinematography, which evokes a chilling atmosphere and an eerie feel throughout the film's runtime. Thaman's background score also backs up the visuals, but his songs barely pass muster. Gopi Krishna's editing also does the job as he manages to offer some brilliant jump scares and shock moments.
All in all, Rambala's transition from the small to the big screen in his debut feature is mostly smooth, but the choppy parts are too distinct to ignore. He shows promise in handling the humorous scenes but falters more times than can be overlooked, when it comes to inducing scares and building the suspense, which could also be attributed to the messy script. Santhanam's presence and the funny dialogues are what help Dhilluku Dhuddu stay afloat.
Great Grand Masti (2016)
Great Grand Masti Review: Too Little Masti, Too Much Sasti
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 1.9/5 stars
Yet another adult-comedy emerges from Bollywood to try and titillate our senses. And with the kind of stuff on display in Great Grand Masti, courtesy the sensuous Urvashi Rautela, the target audience will certainly find plenty of reason to get titillated. But, what of the other section of the audience the ones who look for actual comedy in an adult comedy. Does the movie have anything to offer in terms of genuine laughs or is it all crass humor, double-meaning jokes, and one shot after another of scantily clad women?
Well, the good news is that (at least to a moderate extent) the third installment in the super-successful Masti franchise (India's most-profitable adult-comedy series) has its genuinely funny moments. Hell, there are times when you'll actually burst out laughing both because of the well-scripted gags and the actor's belief in them. Scenes where the trio of Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, and Aftab Shivdasani undress before one of their mother-in- laws to have a foursome with her or when they a man makes them masturbate at gun point will makes even the biggest of prudes giggle.
The plot is completely bonkers, but that wouldn't have been the issue had the gags and jokes been constantly funny. Amar, Meet, and Prem played by Riteish, Vivek, and Aftab are as usual not getting enough of bedroom action from their wives, this time because of meddling in- laws. Amar has an ancient palace that he's just inherited, and Prem gets an idea (like always) to have "great grand masti" this time with village belles instead of stylish city gals. The problem is that the palace is inhabited by a spirit who died a virgin (bear with us) and now needs a one night stand to release her soul into heaven. However, there's a twist the lucky bugger who'll sleep with her will unluckily have to travel with her to heaven.
The problem is that there's just a handful of truly funny scenes and way too much of the other titillating stuff that plagues most Bollywood adult comedies of late. Most of the other gags appear forced and many of the jokes are straight out of a college student's WhatsApp chat history. And while a sex-comedy does need to have sex, skimpiness, and spice, its time our Directors, who attempt to make such movies, need to realize that the story-arc should merit the sexy stuff and not the other way around. For this, they don't need to look any further than when the industry began making sex- comedies, when films like Masti and Kya Kool Hai Hum evoked belly- full of laughs for those who like their humor laced with naughtiness. Matter of fact, it was Director Indra Kumar who had started it all with Masti. How then he's wavered so far from his own brand? The unmelodious songs don't help either.
What makes Great Grand Masti pass muster is Urvashi Rautela (surprise, surprise). She's in complete form as the sex-crazed virgin ghost and her exaggerated expressions, which would have looked unnatural in a well-scripted movie, are totally in place here. She's backed well by our three mastikhor heroes, who can play these parts in their sleep now. Sadly, Pooja Bose, Mishti, and Shraddha Das, who play our heroes' wives, are painfully bad and mess up in delivering even simple lines.
Watching Great Grand Masti is similar to attending a buffet clogged with way too many extra-oily dishes and just two or three items to savor. After you're done with the experience, those items may not be savory enough to wash away the tastelessness of the other items.
Sultan Review: Triumph, Tears, Glory, and Brilliant Entertainment
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 3.7/5 stars
O re, Sultan! Those are the words along with the infectious background score that echoes at crucial junctures in the latest Salman Khan starrer, and that's the sentiment with which you walk out after the film is over. Sultan is the kind of film that goes easy on you at the start, you won't get your hopes up but you'll also enjoy the breezy entertainment that unfolds on screen, and then gradually, steadily, it keeps growing on you till you can't help but lap up every emotion, every dialogue, every punch, every kick, every cry of pain, and every shout of triumph with open arms.
It's the dialogues, inspiringly emotional story, Salman Khan's inescapable on screen charm, and Anushka Sharma's knockout performance that are the real victors here. The narrative is something you'll guess from miles away, but it's the treatment and moving dialogues that completely bowl you over. Salman, who plays Sultan Ali Khan (for those still living on the moon), is a 30-year old, carefree guy, with no ambitions in life other than enjoying each day as it comes. During one such jovial incident, he bumps into Aarfa (Anushka Sharma) by accident, and falls head-over-heels in love. After a few innocent pranks to win her over, she starts warming up to him, and at this point you think you've seen it all before but the Salman's mischievous nature and Anushka's perfect Haryanvi diction and no-nonsense outlook to life is keeping you mildly engaged.
Until one day, when she blatantly refuses his advances and insults him for his happy-go-lucky outlook, and you realize that Sultan has something deeper in store than a run-of-the-mill love story against a wrestling backdrop. When she tells Salman that she cannot love a man she can't respect, and his on screen dad explains him that the path to respect more often than not is through disrespect, you get ready to buckle in, and be swept up in a good story that's beginning to scratch the surface. Dialogues like these are peppered throughout the movie, lending it that meaningful punch that packs an even bigger impact than Sultan's in-ring punches.
From here on, Sultan takes stock of his life, and his meteoric rise to the top, couple with training and fight scenes that deliver several knockout punches are a treat to the eyes. He gains respect, he gets the love of his life, he wins all that there is to win, and you thoroughly enjoy the roller-coaster ride through the first half, only to realize that Director and writer Ali Abbas Zafar (his best work by some distance) is not done tapping into your emotions just yet. Sultan's respect and honor, which he fought so hard to achieve, turns into arrogance, and this transition is shown with brilliant control and fluidity because of both the trajectory of the plot and Salman's magnetic appeal. If you thought that Bajrangi Bhaijaan was his best till date, then you've seen nothing yet. Given his meatiest role to date, Salman chews every frame he's in, and you can't help but be won over by his innocence and spirit. Where his accent and mannerisms falter, his energy and attitude with which he portrays the character keeps winning you over. The final scenes, where he fights back for his love, respect, and also humility, is something straight out of the handbook of how to captivate an audience. Salman makes sure that no one will walk out of the theater without a smile on their face.
If Salman is attitude personified, then Anushka proves yet again why she's one of our most versatile actresses going around today. Forget her impeccable diction that never once leaves her character, it's her silence that speaks volumes. Scenes in which she breaks down or motivates Salman again leave you transfixed at her potential to steal the show even in front of superstars. And to Salman and the makers' credit, she's no mere prop in the film. Randeep Hooda and Amit Sadh are serviceable in their minor roles.
A word for the music too. For once, the songs in a Salman film aren't used as breaks from the plot but take the plot forward. Even the baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai track is brilliantly integrated, and the title track will give you nothing short of goosebumps. The editing could have been crisper and there are quite a few scenes that demand suspension of your belief, like an MMA fighter eating regular food or a washed-up wrestler mastering MMA moves within six weeks, and then besting pro fighters. But, like we mentioned earlier, you can't help but flow along with the emotions of the film and ignore such logical loopholes along the way.
Can a 40-year old local wrestler become an MMA champ? Probably not. But, then again, stranger things happen in sports, stranger than movie scripts too. Muhammad Ali when his third championship belt when no one gave him a whimper of a chance. And, while watching Sultan, you can't help but not bother about such trivialities. You'll laugh and cry and feel sad and exalt in joy at the character's journey. You won't be able to restrain yourself from clapping and cheering him on (After ages we witnessed an entire theater clapping at several points in the movie.). Sultan is a perfect commercial entertainer and a brilliantly packaged holiday treat. It's not just a movie, it's an Eid event that Salman has gifted his fans and neutral moviegoers alike.
Zootopia Review: Immensely Enjoyable, Surprisingly Topical, Absolutely Unmissable
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 4.9/5 stars
The ingeniously conceived and brilliantly executed "Zootopia" offers a subtly delivered, thought-provoking message that's as timely and topical as its gorgeous visual splendor is immersive and delightful. And, it does all this and more while being fast-paced, extremely witty, at times rib-tickling hilarious, and wholly exciting. It's the kind of matured entertainment that doesn't alienate adults but also ensures that it refrains from talking down to kids.
The largest elephant to the smallest shrew and everything in between live in the city of Zootopia a mammal metropolis, a melting hot- pot of cultures and races, where various animals live in harmony, at least on the face of things. Enter Judy Hopps, the first bunny to join the police force. Her dreams and zeal are quickly sent for a toss when she learns just how arduous a task it is to enforce the law. Not one to ever be deterred, Judy jumps at the chance of cracking a mysterious case that's left the entire force baffled. However, that also means teaming with Nick Wilde, a wily, fast- talking, con-fox who makes her job and life all the more harder.
On the surface, this Disney venture is quite conventional on many levels, but as the layers begin to peel off, there's so much wit, flair, and subtle hints at societal woes that it outperforms many a deeply themed, adult-driven drama. This is dressed as nothing but a buddy-cop movie aimed at kids that slowly and unexpectedly metamorphoses into a political thriller, with underlying social and racial themes. A la, George Orwell's Animal Farm with a sweet, modern-day Disneyfied twist "Zootopia" almost plays like an LA film noir that delivers a feel-good message about being non- prejudiced to folks, who're different to us in race, and the need for tolerance in an increasingly fearful and diverse world.
"Zootopia" just scores on so many home runs on so many fronts that it instantly finds itself right up there with the cremè-de-la-crème of Disney classics like "The Lion King", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Aladdin". So entertaining, so satisfying, so introspective.
Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016)
Raman Raghav 2.0 Review: Psychotically Delicious and Gorgeously Disturbing
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Movie-buffs all over, it's time to rejoice because one of India's cinematic masters is back in his elements, doing what he does best engrossing us in a rich canvas or visual story-telling, striking a perfect balance between high-quality art and higher-quality entertainment, and teasing us till the very hand till we're all but eating out of the palm of hand. With Raman Raghav 2.0, Anurag Kashyap comes roaring back into form after the commercial and critical debacle that was Bombay Velvet. He delves deep into the psyche of a bona- fide psycho clearly defining the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath and comes up with a film that's as cinematically thrilling as it's psychologically haunting.
Nawaz, who plays the notorious serial-killer Raman, is inspired by the real-life serial-killer, Raman Raghav, who used to terrorize Mumbai's streets back in the 1960s. He's completely devoid of emotional connect, except when he feels the pleasure of smashed brains and flowing blood. The screenplay (fabulously researched and intricately constructed by Kashyap and Vasan Bala) follows his exploits as he navigates the bylanes, slums, and rundown apartments of Mumbai, piling on the bodies and indulging his dark fantasies. Scenes where you see pure pleasure in his eyes as he targets his kill are testimony of the kind of effort and thought-process gone into making this film. But it isn't just the directing, writing, and acting that makes it so great. Every minor thing like the editing between scenes and dark lighting of dingy locations adds to the depth of the film. Even the songs strike a perfect chord to take the plot forward, with Behooda being particularly transitional to the narrative.
However, Raman Raghav 2.0 isn't just about the thrills and chills one wants a movie of this kind. Yes, it delivers all that, and in copious amounts, but it's also so much more. From the opening sequence, where Raman wants others to know (and chooses the police no less) of his devilish deeds and brilliantly devious mind, we realize that here's a character striptease of a man on the opposite spectrum of society; the type we've heard about on the news or read in leading dailies, but haven't really had the misfortune to encounter in reality.
You're literally made to feel Raman's madness regardless how much it scares you. And credit for this has to go as much to the Nawazuddin as its owed to Kashyap and his team. The actor, who has enthralled us with many a gut-wrenching performance in the past, as arguably delivered his finest yet. He's as effective rolling in the gutter to hide from the police as he's in terrorizing his own family while giving into his sinister cravings. And it would have been so easy for any actor to portray Raman as a cliché of similar characters known to moviegoers, but it's Nawaz's deep understanding of his character and methodical approach to it that makes it stand out from scores of other psychos portrayed on screen before like the comic touch he bring to the maniacal role without overdoing it.
Nawaz makes you believe that he was born to commit these hideous acts, which is why he can't really help himself. And, it's this conviction that makes you also believe when he goes in search of his partner-in-crime. After all he's Raman, and he needs a Raghav to form a deadly-duo in reverence of the murderer he idolizes. Who he chooses as his accomplice or his better-half like he puts it? Well, that twist will literally shake the ground beneath your feet. It's certainly not something you'd want us to reveal.
Hunting this monster is Vicky Kaushal, who plays the DCP of the Mumbai Police Force unlike any cop we've seen in Indian cinema before. He's an addict to the core, and has no apologies about being one just like Nawaz has none about his murderous vices. Kaushal is as emotionally bare as Nawaz, with the only difference being that they emotional voids are targeted at the opposite spectrums of the law. Kaushal can't even bond with his girlfriend, Sobhita Dhulipala, who shines in a small but significant role, showing that a character doesn't need to be major in order to be meaty. And, kudos to Kashyap for once again using his keen eye to spot fresh talent. The cat-and- mouse played between the psycho and the cop hurtles to consequences you'd never see coming, with Kaushal playing the perfect foil to Nawaz's devilry.
Kashyap ensures that we get as up close and personal, with this evil mayhem, as could be possible through the medium of cinema. He literally directs the heck out of Raman Raghav 2.0. Scenes are palpable tense, emotions are stripped bare, and you have no clue about what could come next. Just like in the mind of a true psycho, anything and everything is fair game in this movie. It's unlike anything you've seen in Indian cinema before because while we've had great thrillers, we've never seen a no-holds-barred, blood-soaked spectacle of this kind.
Raman Raghav 2.0 is in the league of darkly demented suspense films like Psycho and Se7en, and Nawaz's character is up there with the greatest psychos ever seen in the history of cinema.
Te3n Review: Quite Engrossing, Not Quite So Thrilling
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 3/5 stars
A thriller that hits multiple notes and evokes diverse emotions from a viewer during its 2-hour+ duration, Te3n is one of those movies that amazes you at times and frustrates you at others. It has the potential to keep you riveted at the edge of your seat, but it's content with making you sit attentively at most.
From the opening scene itself, you feel like you could be in for a treat. The frail yet unmistakably imposing presence of Amitabh Bachchan as an old man, surveying a busy police precinct is exactly the type of scene that leaves the audience wondering what could have happened? Enter Vidya Balan as the chief inspector, with a calm yet no- nonsense demeanor, who tries to comfort Bachchan for something tragic in his past that still haunts him; and the story is set up really well within the first 15 minutes itself.
Bachchan plays John Biswas, a man who refuses to give up hope on finding the murderer of his only grandchild, even when all others around him law-enforcers and family alike have decided to move on. Eight years after the crime remains unsolved, John's intent and conviction of finding the culprit remains steadfast as ever. Almost like a man possessed with a single-minded focus, John's steely resolve goes unnoticed behind his meek, shabby, and harmless outlook. And nailing this multi-faceted complex character to the hilt is that old warhorse, the performer of all performers, the Big B. It's unbelievable how this man excels in every little nuance, every slight emotion; reinventing himself in each character he plays even without seeming like he's trying to. Just when you think what more can Amitabh offer on screen, along he comes with another act to marvel in awe. Additionally, his rendition of the song Kyun Re that plays in the background of one emotional scene is the icing on the cake. Two other songs also play in the background, but they hamper the narrative more than taking it forward.
But this is no one-man show. Bachchan enlists Nawazuddin Siddiqui in his quest, regardless if he wishes to aid him or not. Nawaz plays Father Martin, an ex-cop turned priest, who was also, incidentally, the cop in charge of rescuing John's granddaughter all those years ago. He leaves the force as a result of the severe mental trauma experienced when he couldn't save the kid in time. Though he seeks the priesthood as an outlet to find peace and move on, John isn't quite ready to let him retire to a life of prayer and service just yet.
However, when another kidnapping occurs eight years later, with exactly the same M.O. as John's granddaughter's case, it's exactly the stimulant Martin needs to spring back into action. And spring back he does because this is Nawaz we're talking about. He plays the perfect foil to Bachchan's meatier character, and together, the two play off each other admirable to set us on a wild goose chase. Sandwiched between them is Balan as the cop in charge of the current case, and she's like the mayonnaise that makes the sandwich all the more scrumptious. In fact, Balan has got a substantial supporting role in Te3n, and why she's credited with a guest appearance is best left answered to the makers themselves. Both Balan and Nawaz are at the top of their game. The only thing is that they come up against a veteran, who's not only got a much meatier role, but has years more experience behind him.
So, if everything works so smoothly, what's the issue, you may ask. Well, that's the thing if things only move along so smoothly, it's because these three actors ensure that they rise above the narrative whenever it threatens to steer off-course. Though Te3n is based on a brilliant Korean film called Montage, what separates the two is the pace and the handling of intricate portions. Director Ribhu Dasgupta does a fine job as long as he's moving the thriller along by the numbers. But the moment the screenplay (well adapted by Suresh Nair, Ritesh Shah, and Bijesh Jayarajan) demands that he looks at things with a complex eye, the inconsistencies in the flow become too evident to overlook. Plus, he decides to play such scenarios by dropping the pace to almost a crawl, wherein he muddles the difference between a slow-burning thriller and just a slow thriller. Also, the big twist that comes in the end satisfies you without exactly leaving you stunned, which would have been fine had Dasgupta not set up the story for an earth-shattering revelation. And that's where the performances of Te3n become all the more crucial to keeping you interested in what's going on.
Te3n may not be the thriller you're expecting, but it still is a thriller that you'd be content walking away from. It had the potential to be so much more, but, thankfully, it at least does enough with that potential to leave a good enough impression on you. With its performances and some suspenseful scenes that hit the mark, Te3n will make for a decent trip to the cinema this weekend.
Housefull 3 (2016)
Housefull 3 Review: A Comedy that Induces Pain but Not From Laughs
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 1.4/5 stars
Housefull 1 was a very funny movie, no two ways about it. Unless you're a really difficult person to please that movie would have made you laugh. It almost made us think that Sajid Khan, with all his shortcomings, could at least give us a decent laugh (then Himmatwala and Humshakals happened), and the film's box-office performance sparked off a franchise. Housefull 2 wasn't as funny, but it had its laugh-out-loud moments (courtesy Akshay Kumar and Johnny Lever), and you at least walked away from it amused. Housefull 3 is just one God-awful mess that even Akshay Kumar, Riteish Deshmukh, and Boman Irani, with all their impeccable comic timings, cannot salvage.
Let's begin with the plot wait a second what plot, which plot, there is no plot. Comedy sketches on TV have better plots than this. Random gags (that are funny only according to Director-writer duo Sajid- Farhad and their co-writer K. Subash) and a few repetitive set pieces constitute the entire film's screenplay, that's it. Sample this for some strange reason, most of the movie revolves around a massive garden lawn, the façade of a palatial mansion (not even the mansion itself), and a wax museum that looks straight out of a Dharavi ghetto, which bring you to the question, what was that massive budget of the movie utilized for?
The rest of the story (for lack of a better word) revolves around how Akshay, Riteish, and Abhishek feign being lame, blind, and mute to gain favor with Boman and marry his daughters Jacqueline Fernandez, Lisa Haydon, and Nargis Fakhri. Enter Jackie Shroff, and our three dudes have to interchange their disabilities to impress him because it turns out that he's actually the girls' daddy dear. In all fairness, this presented a recipe for genuinely funny comedy, but all that Sajid-Farhad offer up is one harebrained, unfunny gag after another.
As for the gags, they oscillate between three notes unfunny, cringe-worthy, and pain-inducing. There are films where the jokes fall flat, and then there's Housefull 3, which makes you want to break into an impromptu standup comedy act just so that your fellow viewers could leave with some small dose of laughter for the money they've paid. Thankfully, the makers have steered clear of homophobic jokes or below-the-belt humor this time. Sadly, they also have seemed to stay away from the jokes, too. And the songs, well, suffice it to say that they have a reputation to uphold in keeping with the rest of the film.
When a Director makes you miss Sajid Khan's skills, or rather the lack of them, behind the camera, you know that something has gone terribly wrong right from the scripting stage to the final finishing touches. And, just so if you get lured into that pointless argument of leaving your brains at home and just enjoying some brainless entertainment, then ask yourself how can something be entertaining if it's already being declared as brainless. Jacqueline, Lisa, Nargis, and Abhishek, and Jackie Shroff wander aimlessly through the entire movie while Akshay, Riteish, and Boman do their best to salvage this mess, but when each line in a comedy fails miserably, the plot is in total shambles, and the jokes are something even six- year olds would find juvenile, then what could expect even good actors to do. Even Aakhri Pasta one of the highlights of the first two films makes this one look like an unfunny raasta.
13 Hours (2016)
Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Review: Bay Can Direct and Direct He Does
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 3.7/5 stars
"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" is Director Micahel Bay's most mature effort hitherto, and almost makes you forget his cinematic abominations in the past few years; almost, ranking with his best efforts like "The Rock" and "Armageddon". Film schools will hardly declare it as a shining example of brilliant filmmaking, but all the tough SOBs in the Navy Seals, Delta Forces, and Marines - the ones whose opinions actually matter here because they're the ones who go through such harrowing experiences to keep us protected - will, in all probability, give "13 Hours" two thumbs up.
The story of the by now well-known attack on the CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 generally sticks to what is thought to have happened, and provides some tense action scenes while paying due reverence to the sensitivity of its subject matter. But, then again, Bay's expertise in staging elaborate and exciting fight scenarios was never in doubt, it's been his handling of other directorial aspects that have made many of his efforts almost intolerable. Thankfully, this time we get the Bay of "The Rock" rather than the man behind the misfires that were "The Transformers" movies and his other mind-numbing crapfests.
"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers" of Benghazi is a gut-wrenching, tense, action-packed, yet emotionally draining war movie, and Bay can still direct if he sets his mind to it. Why doesn't he do it more often?
Azhar Review: It's Time to Set the Record Straight
Reviewed by: Dare Devil Kid (DDK)
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Walking into the movie Azhar, you'll be expecting to see a lot of the preconceived notions you have about the man and the cricketer unfold on screen. By the time the movie is over, you'll be walking out questioning most of what you thought you knew, your preconceived beliefs having been dealt a severe blow.
Director Tony D'Souza and his writer Rajat Arora brilliantly capture the journey of one of India's greatest batsman, right from his birth to his eventual exoneration by the court, focusing equally on Azharuddin's storied career as well as the shocking scandal that derailed it. Along the way, he makes us remember that this man's career is indeed worth remembering, and the controversy that erupted toward the end of it needs to be looked at from a different angle. Tony's Boss and Blue suddenly feel like distant memories.
All Azhar ever wanted was to dedicate his life to playing cricket for India and fulfill his maternal grandfather's dream of him completing 100 test matches, which he tragically fell short of by a solitary match. And this dream, his every emotion, the man's simplicity, never-say-die attitude, introvert nature, and humble yet fighting spirit is captured to the T by Emraan Hashmi, who finally gets a movie deserving his talents after some time. He smashes every dialogue, every scene, every mannerism, every inflection in his tone, and every expression in his eyes for a six. When all's said and done, it may not go down as the year's best male performance, but it'll definitely be remembered among the year's ten best.
Giving Emraan able support at every step are Lara Dutta and Prachi Desai as the prosecution lawyer and his first wife, Naureen. Lara's tough-as-nails over here. Prachi is a symbol of support and niceness and her performance shines. She surely nails the 'good' spouse part but she definitely has a lot more to offer in terms of acting and it would be great to see her in different kind of roles. Nargis Fakhri, however, is a complete letdown, and falters big time in both emoting and dialogue delivery. She towers over Prachi in height, but it's the other way around when it comes to their performances. Gautam Gulati is stylish in his small part, and his performance in the film should fetch him more urbane roles in the future. He exudes flamboyance as ex-cricketer and Azharuddin's teammate Ravi Shastri, and it'll be interesting to see what he can do with a meatier role.
Matching Nargis in terms of disappointment is the timing of the film's music. The songs are no doubt chartbusters, but they do little to take the story forward, especially Nargis' Oye Oye track. A serious sporting flashback like Azhar needed songs that help its character's journeys progress, which, sadly, isn't the case. Also, Tony's Direction while good, stumbles slightly while handling the court room scenes, which form some of the major points in the movie.
Azhar may not go down as one of the best biopics ever made. But, when the dust settles on the movie and its eponymous subject's story, quite literally, it'll emerge as a highly absorbing tale that takes you through a roller coaster of emotions and nostalgia. Perhaps, the best aspect of the movie is how it compels you to introspect and question whether Azhar was actually guilty. And, that itself is a rare feat for any movie to accomplish.