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Jab Harry met Sejal (2017)
It's not the ring, it's the plot that's missing!
I don't know why I am writing a review on Jab Harry Met Sejal but I think Imtiaz Ali is not the same man anymore who redefined love stories with gems like Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar. I wasn't expecting a fresh take on love from JHMS anyways, but I felt there is absolutely no plot in this movie. It's high time that Bollywood directors like Imtiaz Ali, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra realize that they cannot keep churning out rubbishes like JHMS, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or Befikre anymore. They need to touch a cord with the audience with their movies. Also, I think it's high time that Shah Rukh Khan should reconsider his movie choices. He just can't keep repeating his lover boy act from DDLJ anymore. He should keep up with his age and the current generation love stories. And he should STOP romancing girls half his age. I would also like to tell Anushka that she should start choosing her movies wisely. It seems like she's only interested in bagging movies of big Bollywood directors that she doesn't even pay attention to the scripts of the movies. First ADHM and now JHMS, she should stop picking these mindless romantic junks and do something meaningful like her contemporary Alia Bhatt who is making sensible career choices than her! The climax was such a bummer that I just got up from my chair. I didn't expect such stuff from Imtiaz and SRK. What were they even thinking when they made JHMS?
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)
Karan Johar has cheated us!
I found Ae Dil Hai Mushkil thoroughly disappointing. Nothing about this movie connected to me. In my opinion, Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was the worst. However, ADHM manages to top even that!
Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma spend the first half imitating characters from Johar's previous movies and movies from the 80s while the second half looks like a retelling of Ranbir's own Rockstar (what with Ranbir eventually becoming a singer and the terminal illness track of Anushka)! Just disappointing! I think anyone could have played the role of Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan's Saba. There was nothing spectacular about her performance. However, I think she lets her eyes do most of the talking which is why Johar picked her for the role. She has this incredible talent of emoting with her eyes without saying a word which most actresses of today fail to do. Even her shayaris had no depth whatsoever. Not to mention she struggles with the Urdu portions. I don't think her role was even necessary as she appears in a 15 minuteish role. Ditto for Fawad Khan whose presence in this movie created such a furor prior to its release! Fawad is wasted in a role with which he could have done wonders with. Fawad lets himself to be overshadowed by Ranbir in some of the scenes that they share.
Performance-wise, it's Ranbir and Anushka's film. They own every scene that they have. However, it's the script that lets them down that they find themselves imitating characters from various old Hindi films! It's Ranbir Kapoor who rises over an inane script, leaving his own stamp in each scene which could have fallen flat in a lesser actor's hands. But then he has experience from his own movie, Rockstar where he also played a similar role, playing a lovelorn boy to the hilt. Anushka Sharma is good but finds herself trapped in a role that was done-to-death before a billion times in Bollywood!
On a final note, ADHM is just a one-time watch for Karan Johar and Ranbir Kapoor's fans. I felt like Johar cheated us by creating suspense about the plot of the film before its release. There's nothing novel about the plot of ADHM!
Bajirao Mastani (2015)
Deepika performs below expectations!
Seriously, I was expecting more from Deepika Padukone in Bajirao Mastani since she is one of the eponymous character in this movie and she can be called this generation's female Bollywood superstar no doubt after her brilliant outing in Piku and Tamasha. Sadly, Deepika failed to live up to my expectations. Her dialogue delivery is so weak in some scenes and her dance in the "rang do mohe lal" song just lacks the charm and grace. She seems like a complete misfit for the role of Mastani and looks too tall and modern to be able to carry off the royal look. Deepika just made me feel the need of the supremely talented Aishwarya Rai in many scenes. She just doesn't have varied expressions. Her last scene with her son where she tells him to go with the guards was supposed to melt our hearts. But sadly, it does not. Deepika just seems to be struggling with her emoting abilities. Also, her face when she gets out of a palanquin induces a laugh from audience. Wooden expression at its best! Surprisingly, it's Priyanka Chopra who stole the show from under Deepika's nose despite being a supporting (or is it?) character. Her confusion, anger and jealousy after learning of her husband and Mastani's (Deepika) love is really well etched. Priyanka seems to have developed a knack for stealing the show in every single movie of hers. With this movie, the stage is all set for Ranveer Singh to claim the throne of this generation's super star from the Khan trio. This guy is just something else. The way he masters the Marathi accent and the fight scenes is just wow! No one can be Bajirao other than Ranveer! He nails it like a pro. The only sore thumb of this movie is sadly Deepika Padukone! It's really sad how she ends up being overshadowed despite being the central character. Even Tanvi Azmi as Bajirao's mother gives a strong account of herself but Deepika simply fails to do so!
Anushka's career best performance
Before I even start, I'd like to say that Anushka Sharma's performance was the brightest spot in this film. NH10's story was really good and was something that not many filmmakers in Bollywood have attempted before. I mean, there were many road movies made in Bollywood before like Road, Daud, Kaal among many others. But none have presented a strong female character who was not dependent on the hero to rescue her from her miseries. NH10 rides completely on Anushka's slender shoulders and she proves that she can carry off any roles with aplomb if given a chance.
I was totally satisfied with NH10 but I found some faults in the film. There were some loopholes in the plot, especially at the end when Anushka is riding a jeep and crushing the men who battered her to death and there is a man she is aiming for. Now, he could climb around the stairs, get inside a house (the chase takes place in the bylanes of a village) or simply climb atop the vehicle. But he doesn't do any of this; he simply sits in front of a wall, making the perfect setting for a speeding jeep to crush him. Why does it have to be so convenient for her? Just because she's a woman?
The supporting cast was equally competent. Neil Bhoopalam does a great job as Anushka's caring and loving husband. Darshan Kumar does a complete U-turn from his previous role in Mary Kom as Priyanka Chopra's good-hearted and supporting husband. He was believable as a village thug who has no qualms in killing his sister who married outside her caste. Deepti Naval does a brilliant job as well as the 'Sarpanch' of the village who like Kumar doesn't have any qualms in killing her daughter to protect her honour.
I was also pleased with the flow of the movie as there are no songs to distract you from the plot. Though there's one song which I really liked, "Maati Ka Palang' which aptly describes Anushka's state of mind in the climax when she's ready to kill or to be killed. The editing is praiseworthy but I feel the lighting could have been better at some places.
I must say Anushka Sharma is the hero of NH10. She is absolutely convincing as the damsel in distress and she was brilliant in the climax. I had complaints with Anushka as she was getting type-casted as the bubbly, chirpy girl-next-door in Bollywood with her choice of movies. But she proved that she can be the next big thing in Bollywood with NH10. It's time for us to forget Anushka's cheerful, bubbly avatar as Bollywood has got its new angry woman in Anushka Sharma.
Watch NH10 for Anushka Sharma's powerful, gritty performance. You won't be disappointed!
Most realistic Bollywood film till date
Maachis (matches) is one of the most realistic Hindi film I have seen and I must say the film is engrossing from the very first frame. Gulzar saab is one of the greatest filmmakers of his time and his artistic ability are not to be doubted here as well. The way he has handled most of the scenes in this film is really mind blowing. Maachis is one of the few films where the narrative is of secondary importance while the performances of the actors are the primary focus. I never liked Tabu until I saw Maachis and I was assured that this girl is not just merely an eye candy in films, she was really irritating in Sajaan Chale Sasural. Chandrachur Singh has given his career best performance as Kripal Singh before sinking into oblivion. Jimmy Shergill was good. Om Puri and Kulbhushan Kharbanda are excellent. Raj Zutsi was also good. Some scenes like the brutality of the policemen who use the anti- Sikh insurgency only as an excuse to beat innocent people up really shock you. The climax is explosive and leaves you to ponder on the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh insurgency. A brilliant movie with wonderful performances and a strong story. A must watch!
frightening but excellent
Ace filmmaker Mani Ratnam has attempted a film on inter-religion marriage and the aftermath of communal riots and came out with flying colors. Ratnam has struck all the right chords here as nothing in this film looks out of place and almost all characters have given their very best.
Arvind Swamy shows that he has what it takes to be the numero uno in the industry after his superb performance in Roja while Manisha Koirala is indeed very good here as a Muslim girl torn between her family and her Hindu lover and then a distraught mother of lost twins. None of the actresses portray vulnerability on screen like she does. Nassar is good as the hero's father while Kitty pitches in another believable performance as the heroine's Muslim father.
Music is excellent and I understand why after Bombay, Ratnam chooses A.R. Rahman as the music composer for most of his films. Cinematography is breath-taking and the scenarios of the rural India and the suburban Mumbai have been captured genuinely and beautifully.
Bombay easily goes down in cinematic history as a classic and it does show some disturbing pictures of the aftermath of the Hindu-Muslim riot like charred, deformed bodies of little children after being burnt down which is truly heart wrenching and might melt even the stone-hearted.
Just brilliant! Give it a shot.
Kangana is the true Queen
Queen completely belongs to Kangana Ranaut. She is born to play queen. Kangana takes the cake, the cherry and the whole bakery this time with her performance. It is safe to say that the character of Rani Mehra is her career best character. I did like her when she started off in the industry with Gangster, Woh Lamhe, Fashion and Raaz 2. She sort of lost her way with stupid comedies like No Problem, Double Dhamaal and the outrageous Rascals which took her career nowhere. Kangana did try to reinvent herself with last year's Rajjo, which though failed at the box office, but had Kangana walking away with all the laurels with her heart touching performance as a gold hearted, unfortunate courtesan.
Queen is absolutely Kangana Ranaut's film. Her awkward giggle, the way she scowls, laughs and cries is just amazing. I love how she tries to gain the audience's sympathy with her hapless situation but rather ends up evoking laughter with her perfect comic timing. "Mera life kharaab ho gaya hai. Mera life itna kharaab ho gaya hai," sounded very funny.
The second half of this movie does remind you of English Vinglish when Rani (Kangana Ranaut) is all alone in a foreign land and bonding with strangers. The way Rani struggles and eventually re-discovers herself is much reminiscent of what Sridevi did in English Vinglish. However, Rani's journey is much more entertaining as she encounters quite a handful of funny situations, e.g. when she has her first drink in a nightclub and the way she puts up a fight with a thief who tried to steal her purse.
As Rani goes on to discover her identity, makes new friends, learns to live life on her own terms and starts to grow as a woman, you will be left bewildered and amazed at how well the story moves on.
Vikas Bahl does an excellent job and I am sure he'll keep making brilliant cinemas in the future. I really liked Bahl's Chillar Party and he gives an awesome direction to Queen as well.
Rajkummar Rao makes his presence felt and has good screen presence with Ranaut. Lisa Haydon as Kangana's good friend is impressive and does a fine job. Boko Mish, Jeffrey Ho and Joseph Guitob leave their impression in quite a few scenes they have with Ranaut.
Music is really impressive and tracks like Badra Bahar, London Thumaka, Gujariya and the newer version of Hungama Ho Gaya from the film 'Anhonee' are sure to be chartbusters this year.
The climax is brilliant and is certainly different from the usual Bollywood climaxes we are fed up of watching.
Queen is a delight for movie goers who love fun loving cinemas. You won't be disappointed with Kangana's performance at all. Go watch it and enjoy! It's an absolute treat.
Gulaab Gang (2014)
A treat for Madhuri and Juhi fans
After a lot of hype and hoopla, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla's first film together, Gulaab Gang has finally arrived. To watch the two iconic actresses of the 90s coming together might seem like a dream come true for many, it did that for me at least.
Gulaab Gang completely rests on the able shoulders of these two ladies. Madhuri and especially Juhi in her first villainous role have given their career best performances in this film. I was petrified at how well Juhi has succeeded in portraying an out-and-out negative role for the first time in her career. She proves that one does not have to be loud in order to appear menacing. The way she arches her eyebrows and smiles sardonically makes her appear all the more threatening whenever she is about to do something terrible. Her face off scenes with Madhuri, especially the climax scene where only one of them can survive are brilliant. Juhi Chawla takes coldness and villainy to a whole new level in Gulaab Gang.
Madhuri does an equally brilliant job as the hardened leader of a girls' gang who is always ready to fight injustice. One of the best scenes of the movie is when Madhuri along with her protégé goes to a college in order to collect funds for a school she is planning to set up for the needy children. The way she asks the students whether they can introduce a course on hunger management for those children who can't afford to eat at all is wonderfully etched. Her action scenes are mind- blowing and she dances and even sings like a dream.
However, I feel the script could have been well written as there are several loopholes in the plot. The gang breaking out into a song every now and then does stick out like a sore thumb in an issue-driven film like this and the climax seems too sudden and forceful that the impact could not even be felt. I guess it has to do a lot with the fact that it is Soumik Sen's first directorial venture. He fails to give the movie a more proper climax.
I am quite baffled by the mixed reviews that this film got. The film is actually quite entertaining and both Madhuri and Juhi are in their top form here. I guess Sampat Pal disputing that the film is actually based on her life created a lot of bad publicity for the film. Otherwise, it's a brilliantly made film with stellar performances from the two female superstars of Bollywood.
I didn't quite understand the intention of the director Basu Bhattacharya for making this film.
The film neither glorifies nor condemns the heroine for what she did. Aastha just shows Mansi (Rekha) as being helpless in front of her desires and materialistic needs. She could have lived a content life with just what her husband earns and there's not enough justification for why she strays.
When she has her first sexual encounter with a rich client, she's not shown to be reluctant to do it neither does she attempt to let go of her desire for materialism.
The ending is deeply unsatisfying as the principal question remains unanswered: whether the husband forgives Mansi or not. I know it was meant to be that way in order to make the audience think, however, it would have been even more thoughtful to give the movie a proper ending.
I clearly doubt Bhattacharya's intentions here, however if you are a huge Rekha fan and want to watch her ooze her sex appeal with just her expressions rather than exposing her body, then give it a try!
A take on the Stockholm Syndrome
Imtiaz Ali's fascination with roads continues in Highway too. Highway captures the story of two tortured souls who find the road to salvation on the highways.
The movie is full of beautiful scenerios as the principal character, Veera played by the exuberant Alia Bhatt and Mahabir played by the versatile Randeep Hooda take on a journey to discover themselves. Just days before her wedding, Veera is kidnapped by the brutish Mahabir and his gang. Mahabir doesn't actually know who Veera really is, he just takes her as a hostage in order to save himself from the police. When Mahabir comes to know of Veera's family background that she is the daughter of a rich Delhi tycoon who has strong political connections and may offer any sum to get his daughter freed, he jumps on the opportunity to hold Veera for ransom. However, as days pass, Veera develops a strange bond with Mahabir and she begins to enjoy the journey with him even though she knows that she has been abducted and she should be scared. Deep inside her heart, Veera had always dreamed of a house on a a beautiful mountain far away from the city hustles. She has a dark past which she wants to escape and this journey enables her to do that. She begins to feel a strong connect to Mahabir as he also has a traumatic past which scarred him as a person. Hence, the two souls connect but destiny has something else planned for them.
Highway belongs to Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda. Well, technically speaking it's more of Alia's journey than Randeep's in this film. The story is told through her perspective. Alia proves that given the opportunity, she can carry off any role on her petite shoulders. Alia's portrayal of a child-woman who finds her freedom in bondage is a revelation. She steals the thunder from Randeep in many scenes. The scene where she hides from the police in the kidnappers' truck, much to her own surprise, the scene where she shares her childhood story with Randeep, the scene where she dances to an English music in the middle of a road, the scene where she tells Randeep to rest in her lap and finally, the scene in the climax when she vents out her long held frustration and anger. Alia Bhatt is certainly an actress of substance to watch out in the future. Randeep Hooda shows amazing restraint as a ruffian with a disturbed past and his scene toward the pre-climax is just brilliant when he breaks down in front of Alia.
A.R. Rahman's music is also a plus point. Sooha Saha, Patakha Guddi and Maahi Ve are some really good songs which are sure to become chartbusters this year like the songs of Imtiaz Ali's previous Rockstar did.
Highway is not without its flaws, however, Alia's performance helps us overlook the glitches at several points in the movie.
Overall, Highway makes for an interesting watch on the concept of Stockholm Syndrome. Stockholm Syndrome is not necessarily something bad and it can even help you heal your emotional wounds is what Ali tried to convey in this flick.
I give it 8/10.