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52 reviews in total 
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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A nice, sweet love story. Needed a little more meat, spice & cooking to be great!, 19 September 2014

This is a sweet, but extremely predictable story. One where you wish there was more meat, literally, to justify the title. You visually do see lots of food, in some cases being consumed too, but apart from stray mentions of 'my grandfather's recipe', you don't really talk about food – the favorite dishes, the taste…and thus what is cooked up is just another love story.

Tired of incessant dowry demands from would-be suitors, Parineeti, one day, decides to get even. Till then, along with her father, Anupam Kher, she ekes out a normal, humdrum, middle class existence as a Hyderabadi Muslim, complete with dreams of America. Inspired by a huge settlement in a local dowry case, she decides she will entrap some rich, dowry demanding family and then use the settlement money to fulfill her dreams. Off they go to Lucknow, under fake identities. And meet Aditya Roy Kapur, who runs, one of the city's most popular eateries. And then the plan changes. Or doesn't it?

Being a Habib Faisal movie, it obviously gets the milieu right – whether its that of a Hyderabadi Muslim (with their sing song dialect), or that of a wannabe middle class person (dreams of America while being a salesgirl at a local shoe store, wants a guy who speaks good English – even better if with an American twang), or even the scared/worried father, desperate to get his daughter married off. In fact, one of the more endearing sub-plots, which was briefly introduced but not really built on, related to Anupam Kher's job as a legal clerk, his own knowledge of the law and the court system yet, despite some egging from colleagues, his inability to fly – ie make the transition from being a clerk to becoming an advocate – despite retirement being just around the corner.

Aditya and Parineeti, both, did justice to their roles, making their slightly over-the-top characters come to life. I particularly liked Aditya's screen presence, he has this slightly gangly look but more than makes up with his expressions and a shy, disarming smile. Hope he doesn't take up any more drunk, suicidal roles. The supporting cast, including the various demanding parents and suitors, was fascinating to watch – their mannerisms, the way their 'requests for help' were communicated (since no one actually uses the word dowry) and also the communication between spouses.

All in all, a good film, a sweet love story, but one which doesn't really rise above the average Bollywood romcom and one where the title, Dawat-E-Ishq, seems like almost an after-thought, to differentiate itself from other films in this genre, without any substantial meat in the script

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44 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Delicious, quirky characters add fizz to this funny film, 12 September 2014

Naseeruddin Shah : is a shy, solemn loner, the post master in a village where no one posts or receives any mail, still is a choirboy singer even though his days of being a boy are well behind him. And he brays, nay, sobs inconsolably as he receives a marriage proposal he'd made to his beloved Fanny via mail, forty-six years ago. It was never posted ! And the only one who understands him, is willing to help him is the girl he considers to be like a daughter, who he thinks will make one lucky bugger a great wife and will also be a super mother…Deepika…

Deepika Padukone : ethereal, leggy, flashing that dimpled smile of hers, a vision in floral dresses, floating through their tiny Goan village, remains upbeat despite all that's happened to her, with her husband choking to death on her wedding day, she till today isn't sure whether she should've accepted her hubby's proposal or gone with his friend instead, her quiet admirer, the quiet, quite infatuated… Arjun….

Arjun Kapoor : left town the day Deepika was going to get married. Rumour has it he went to Mumbai and was successful in some business. Is now back in their village. Not happy about how things have turned out. Prone to angry outbursts. Alone in his dilapidated house, which is falling apart. And working on his old car, which is also falling apart. Which he's just sold to… Pankaj….

Pankaj Kapur : is the new man in town, an award winning artist, a painter who earns huge sums for his every brush stroke. Is enjoying his solitude, the idyllic sylvan surroundings, his alcohol. And is also indulging in his fetish for 'big' women…by ogling at Dimple…

Dimple Kapadia : who does have a really large ass ! Also happens to be Deepika's mother in law and house mate, the woman who makes the tiny village tick, the one who organizes everything and loves being the centre of attention…the type who will try to commit suicide but will cough first to make sure someone is watching…the stingy type who will hide the cookies if she thinks her guest is eating too many…the type who feels too many drinks don't agree with her legs. Gout? Inquires Pankaj, solicitously ? No, she laughs, it makes them spread open…

These five quirky characters set off on a drive to locate Naseer's precious Fanny. In the dilapidated car. From the village that we're assured is so tiny, you cant locate it on a map. And interesting things happen on the way.

This is one of those delicious movies where its not so much about the story but more about the characters and the conversations. Where the script and the dialogue is, quite refreshingly, actually king. Where the music sets the mood but doesn't overpower. Where the performances by the stalwarts, Pankaj, Naseer are every bit what you would expect – they get into the skin of their assigned roles, changing body language, their walk, their way of talking to ensure we believe in them. Pankaj, in particular, has more scope to display his intensity, especially in a little bit towards the end.

Dimple is very good too, dominating yet hesitantly finding her way through the challenges life has thrown at her. Arjun has probably the most unidimensional role and he does it credit. In acting chops, probably the one who has to go the furthest, but he can still hold his head high after this one. And Deepika…ah, sweet, lovely, Deepika! Anyone who doubts whether she can act…I mean, really act…better be advised to watch this one. None of the histrionics, over the top gestures and mannerisms of say, Chennai Express…just subtle changes of expressions, a slightly quizzical mien of inner happiness with just a smidgen of indecision.

This is one of those films which is about journeys, self-discovery, life and more. The lessons made easy with the humour and the idiosyncratic dramatis personae. Set in a place where we all wish we could be…simpler, where time seems to stand still. And its not so much about Finding Fanny, but finding love…at any age…

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Baseball with an Indian flavour in a Disney fairytale, 10 May 2014

Feel good, fun film, very predictable but still manages to hold attention thanks to its Indian flavor and the self-discovery some of the characters go through, particularly Jon Hamm.

Jon is a sports agent down to his last throw of dice when he convinces a Chinese entrepreneur (Tzi Ma) to fund a search for new baseball pitcher from India's vast pool of cricket bowlers, setting it up as a talent hunt, criss-crossing the country. After many a hiccup, they finally narrow it down to 2 candidates, Suraj and Madhur and whisk them, along with Pitobash (a wanna be baseball coach, translator) to the USA to get them to train, get ready for a tryout in a very tight deadline. Things don't go exactly as planned and Jon at one point complains about having signed up for a talent contest, not to become a primary care-giver.

His business partner, Aasif (remember him from Ghost Town ?) and tenant, Lake Bell, are the ones helping keep things on track, while Alan Arkin and Bill Paxton as the baseball scout and coach, try to help with their wise counsel, while Darshan Jariwala plays a cameo.

This is a film that doesn't really go deep but keeps things moving while skimming through what the characters are going through. The adjustment issues – Jon's to India and then later for the Indian trio in America are humorously and quickly told. The relationship between Jon and Lake – beginning with a broken down washing machine, then Skype and later at home is crucial to the plot. And most fascinating of all is watching Jon's character, the deal hungry, self-centered sports agent, try and figure out what life is about – of course, with a few helpful nudges from friends

Sport movies usually suffer from predictable endings and this one is no exception. It drags a bit in the second half too but the music score by A R Rahman helps gloss over that. It's a true story apparently but one, surprisingly not too many Indians are aware of, so in that sense, the chief objective of doing the talent hunt, to popularize baseball in India, doesn't really seem to have worked. Unfortunately, going by the low key promotion, release and the small crowds, even the film wont help do that here

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15 out of 30 people found the following review useful:
People fall in and out of love or marriage mandaps too easily, 7 September 2013

People fall in and out of love too easily. Change their mind about marriage too conveniently. I understand promiscuity but this is a different level of flippancy. You also don't get what's it about Sushant that he gets too fairly hot women to lust for him.

Sushant Singh runs away from one marriage, from the actual jai-mala stage. Because he is not sure. Neither are we about why he runs away. He seems like a typical, dil-phenkh, sadak- chhaap boy, nothing memorable about him, not much to look at either. But first Parineeti falls for him. Then Vaani Kapoor, the girl he had left at the Hindu equivalent of the altar, also does so. Cue a couple more escapes from weddings and you wonder what the hell is going on…

The only character who remains consistent, understandable is Rishi Kapoor. A man who employs both Sushant and Parineeti as fake baraati's and otherwise runs a wedding catering / baraat business. His advice, concern for the three leads remains genuine. And even though there are plenty of 'I love you's', kisses and sex, not once do you feel anything is real or heart- felt…which kind of allows the whole movie to pass you by as well, without any regard for its leads.

Some of the jokes are funny. The rustic touches are good, the atmosphere, small-town feel works and the performances sincere. Pity you just don't agree with either the overall plot or the characters created.

RED 2 (2013)
2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A notch below the previous one but still fun !, 20 July 2013

One of those, like the first one, where its all about the ride rather than rationality, as we watch our Retired & Extremely Dangerous lot, come together again, on another romp, this time a global one, criss-crossing Paris, London and Moscow in search of Nightshade

Nightshade was a secret plan, one about which our boys, Bruce or John, had no clue but thanks to a Wikipedia article, are now implicated, leading to all hell breaking loose. Chased by the CIA, MI6, a deadly Korean contract killer with a personal agenda (Byung-Hun) and the KGB (in no particular order), the guns never stop firing, nor the bombs going off. Bruce's inability to cope with his thrill-seeking girlfriend's (Mary-Louise) desire to be in the thick of the action forms a charming thread through the narrative.

Along the way we meet some familiar faces (Helen Mirren, Brian Cox) and some new ones (a horrendously made up Catherine Zeta Jones, the cheerful battering ram, Neal McDonough, the wine-loving, secrets repository, David Thewlis, and the amazingly intelligent Anthony Hopkins). Some are good guys. Some bad. But all over the top, determined to go down blazing…

I don't know if the intended target audience for this are senior citizens or those who one day aspire to become one. But its great fun, enjoyable as long as it isn't taken too seriously.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Slow, gentle, thought provoking and a visual delight, 20 July 2013

A movie that moves so slowly, languidly that you'll swear you know snails who're faster, turtles who seem rocket-fueled compared to this one.

Visuals that make you rock back, admire their beauty, of the planet we inhabit and the meanings within

Stray thoughts, casually tossed up in conversations that go nowhere, which make you ponder

For me, Ship of Theseus, while obviously making you think of the question it asks in its opening frame, manages to do more because it chooses a non-confrontational, subtle (not heavy- handed, preachy) approach. One, which is the precise opposite of what, say a Rakeysh OmPrakash Mehra chooses to do. The beauty of this approach is that different people, based on their proclivities, their journeys in life, the stage of life they are at, can choose to draw completely different things from the film

The movie, for the record, is about three (unrelated?) stories.

Aida El-Kasheef, who took up photography post losing her eyesight, but thanks to technology and her boyfriend's loving support (including verbally describing the visuals she has taken), is doing amazingly well.

Neeraj Kabi, a monk, fighting a court case against pharma companies to force them to treat the animals they use for R&D testing in a more humane manner. Determined to live life as per his conscience, his terms

And Sohum Shah, who can't understand his grandmother's disapproval of his desire to make money. He just wants to be respected, treated well for the good person he is.

There are several comments about the choices we make. Our obsession with money, with what we eat, the desire of media to make heroes out of people, the ruthlessness of big business, the ability of intelligent people to easily argue both sides of a debate while not taking a stand, the sense of humanity still retained by the poor.

The cinematography reveals the beauty within the inherent ugliness of our urban cities. Visuals of a slum-dweller giving shelter to ducks, other animals. A monk, swathed in white, crossing a bridge with huge sewage pipelines on either side while a river, who's water has turned black, flows leisurely underneath. The light filtering through under a ugly flyover. The sun peeping through between Aida and her boyfriend while they argue, look over the city from a rooftop. Monks crossing a giant field filled with ugly, electricity-generating windmills. The rising sun making red walls glow deeper. The narrow alleyways of our slums, which cars or plump people find difficult to access. And the struggle of a centipede to cross over a busy path with oblivious people stepping all around it.

I feel the movie should be seen without any thought or search for deeper meaning. Let it wash over you and make of it what you will, but later. It has the potential to make you think, ponder over things around us. And for sure to make all of us reach for organ donation forms. Which is a great thing by itself…the ability to prolong life even in our death…to live longer, almost attain immortality by a simple act of kindness…

7 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
For fans of Arnie or for those who measure movies by number of bullets, bodies or blown up cars, 19 January 2013

Mindless action, where not much makes sense, the kind only Schwarzenegger can pull off, despite looking and playing the part of an ageing Sheriff, making a last ditch stand against a notorious criminal.

Arnold is the sheriff of a small town, having chosen to return from LA after seeing too much of blood and crime. His team of deputies are bored and completely unused to any action. The most exciting thing one of them has faced was rescuing a cat, while another shakes in terror when gunshots are fired and a third shoots beef joints for kicks. But all that changes when master drug kingpin Eduardo Noriega, just escaped from the FBI's clutches, finds reason to include the sleepy border town in his plans.

Forest Whitaker is the FBI agent determined to recapture Noriega but is strangely unable to do anything tangible, apart from rub Arnold the wrong way, while Johnny Knoxville and Rodrigo are residents of the village who do their best to help their Sheriff.

Logic takes a definite backseat as the plot unfolds. The FBI coming across as markedly toothless and at a loss on what to do, even when the details of the escape plan become known, with Noriega and his mercenaries outwitting and outpacing them reasonably effortlessly till running into our angry hero and his merry men.

Fans of Schwarzenegger will not be disappointed, nor will those who rate movies based on the body / bullet count or by the number of vehicles blown up. Anyone looking for something else, a little bit more, will come away feeling something was amiss.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Its slow, its gripping, its all about characters with varying shades of grey, 19 January 2013

Russell Crowe loves being in power and will do anything to stay there. He is the Mayor of New York, a wheeler dealer, media savvy, into bed with big business and real estate (sounds like one of our politicians, doesn't he) and is not afraid to using a bit of brawn or blackmail when he gets a chance.

Mark Wahlberg is tough as nails cop turned private detective. The kind of guy though, who'll quit alcohol for seven years to please his wife (Natalie Martinez). Or the kind who'll let his clients run up a tab of $42,000 almost making him broke, kept afloat only by the diligent efforts of his devoted secretary (Alona Tal). He'd left the force under a bit of a cloud, the full story behind that being revealed later. But now, seven years after he'd left the police, he gets a call from the Mayor's office.

The mayor, right in the thick of a neck & neck re-election campaign, wants Wahlberg to check on his wife, Zeta-Jones, whom he suspects of adultery. And is willing to pay extra.

The film is a slow, gripping portrayal of politics, love, betrayal and the lust for power. Of murder, shady real-estate deals, adultery and blackmail. The calm, collected Wahlberg is a fine balance to Crowe's physicality and restless energy. Add Catherine Zeta-Jones' smouldering presence and barely concealed antipathy for her husband. A rival, Barry Pepper, who is determined to be mayor. A police commissioner, Jeffrey Wright, who doesn't get along at all with the Crowe. And you have a film that unravels slowly but surely, the whole picture never revealed till right at the end.

What I like about this film is that everyone here has shades of grey, no one is black or white. Probably, the world today is such a place it wouldn't allow anyone pure to truly exist. This is not a film that will blow your mind away, or make you clap with excitement. But, it's a simple story well told. And some of their well-etched characters just might stay with you in the trek back from the cinema.

Inkaar (2013)
2 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A great (sexually) charged first half doesn't quite go all the way, 18 January 2013

Flirting. Sexual harassment. Power politics. Consensual sex. The corporate rat race. Love. All ingredients blend seamlessly and a bit confusingly as the lives of two people intersect, both high in terms of hierarchy, both unwilling to back down and both it seems, with motives other than what is apparent. The first half is quite good, builds things up well. The second falls apart with an end that's unexpected as well as disappointing.

Chitrangda, the National Creative Director of an ad agency, has filed a complaint against her boss (?), the CEO, Arjun Rampal. He also happens to be her former mentor (has taught her everything she knows), lover, friend and adviser. The story unravels as the two depose before a panel, headed by Deepti Naval and populated by other agency people like Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, each of whom have their own point of view, their own loyalty and friendship. Frequent flashbacks trace the past, including incidents brought up as proof or rebuttal, sometimes the same episode shown from different perspectives.

The first half is tight, filled with tension. A scowling Arjun Rampal feels insulted at having to talk to the panel, angry that he is being of accused of something he he denies. "What is the difference between flirting and harassment ?", he thunders once. "Who has benefited from whom ?" he asks, "I've taught her everything she knows !". "Yes, he's taught me everything", replies a feisty Chitrangda, "but does that mean I should spread my legs every time he walks by?". They both come across as honest, earnestly trying to convince the panel the other is at fault.

Other motives creep in the second half. Other people, other vested interests enter the picture. And suddenly, we're not really sure what the two characters are about ? What makes them tick ? What is the true reason behind the case ? How will it solve itself ? But when the end happens, there is a feeling of being let down – its not consistent with either Arjun or Chitrangda's character, nor does it seem logical.

Arjun suits his role, putting his limited facial expressions to good use, coming across every inch as a man with a touch of hubris, one to whom flirting comes naturally and scoring has never been an issue. Chitrangda sizzles as she tries to balance the different aspects of her character – part Alpha Female, part giddy teenager, part vengeful, part seductress and a little bit of a victim of her own success and circumstance. Vipin Sharma, Asheesh Kapur and Viveck Vaswani also stand out in their respective cameos.

Advertising agencies are always seen as being more bohemian, more permissive than other workplaces. Successful women often do have to face the slur of having slept their way up. Love is usually hard to find in modern office spaces, commitment probably harder, especially from men at the top. There are several insights that make sense, issues raised that hit uncomfortably home. But unfortunately, it doesn't tie up or come together perfectly. At the end of the film, I'm not sure what either Arjun or Chitrangda were about anymore. And that's not a nice feeling to leave with, in a drama dominated by these two characters …

PS : My bias for Chitrangda is well documented in my reviews of her earlier films, so not repeating that disclaimer here… More at

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Deliciously whacky, 11 January 2013

Pankaj Kapur is the life and soul of this film, delivering an acting masterclass and a riveting performance, that, combined with the overall sheer zaniness and its excellent, rustic dialogue, keeps you hooked and helps gloss over the wafer-thin plot and limited acting skills / suitability of Imran for the lead role

Whether in the opening sequence, while trying to cajole the Theke wala before ultimately driving his limo through his shed. Or trying to persuade the well to move out of his way. Or inciting a revolt amongst the farmers against himself, the man who knows how to make a plan take off but not land, who speaks flawless English when sober and thet Haryanvi when drunk on his favourite desi, Pankaj Kapur is the man with a vision.

As he explains to his delicious (his words, not mine) partner in crime, Shabana, he finds the sight of agricultural fields boring. He would prefer smoke belching factories, a concrete jungle, cubby-hole apartments for workers, whom you pay salaries with one hand and set up glitzy malls to take it all away with another. Shabana, a minister bank rolled by Pankaj's wealth is only too willing as an accomplice, even playing footsie with him during meetings with officials. And the marriage between her son, a superbly played idiot by Arya Babbar and Pankaj's feisty daughter, Anushka should settle matters once and for all.

The only impediment is Pankaj's valet cum driver cum drinking parner, Imran. A leftist, rabble rousing, JNU educated (that explains everything, doesn't it ?) villager, he wants to rally the remaining farmers to not give up their land, to continue to farm.

Shabana's dark, villainous turn, reminiscent of her evil-exuding role in Loins of Punjab Presents is excellent. Arya throws himself enthusiastically in his role of a well-meaning, slightly daft Mama's boy. Anushka doesn't have much to do apart from fetching apples from the bottom of the pond, sympathizing with the villagers and going around bit confused but she does it well.

There is a message here somewhere. Not that hard to get, nor a particularly new one where the rich, the powerful and the politicians combine to loot the common man who is soon left with no option but to succumb to the crumbs being offered to him. In any case, it's a message told with flair, panache and a craziness involving more than a few pink buffaloes…

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