Reviews written by registered user

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 77:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
769 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Kismath (2016)
Price Of Love. ♦ Grade B-, 25 September 2016

The inspiration behind the conception of this romantic thriller is very interesting, as one can find out from its brief Wikipedia article.

28-year-old Anitha (Sruthi Menon) and 23-year-old Irfan (Shane Nigam) are in unconditional love for some time. They have acknowledged their difference in religious and caste interests, but fear that their orthodox families may not take it easily. Hence, they seek help from the police, who may not be as helpful and scrupulous as they hope them to be. What follows is an intimidating chronicle of two lovers who are forced to dance due to ancient beliefs and acute police degeneration.

Kismath is NOT a love story, but kind of its aftermath. How the couple's decision to stay together no matter what works against them, catalyzed by their own family, their notions, their practices and traditions, and the police. In addition to chronicling their harrowing time at the police station as they seek help from the station in-charge, Ajay (Vinay Forrt), the story also throws light into police apathy and cruelty against those without power or influence. The sequences showing romance are fewer than those showing the characters in distress, which is what the film primarily tries to convey. One can blame a series of things for the couple's ill-fated destiny, but one thing that's loud and clear from this is the backward mentality of the society as we close the year 2016. And the real-life incident took place sometime in 2011, just five years ago. Members of the society still think that inter-caste marriages are a curse to the whole society and everyone incorporated in it, but what they fail to consider here is that caste and religion are all man- made inventions which have no rationality attached to them, but just sick fallacies.

Nigam comes out as a surprise package, having showcased his support in films like NPCB (2013). His air as the hapless lover who has evidently taken a wrong decision is decent. Menon can act, but her expressions gave her away in some sequences that demanded seriousness and authenticity. Forrt shines as the corrupt policeman who is disturbed the second he learns about the girl's caste, a scheduled one. Alencier Lopez, Sunil Sukhada, and all other supporting cast are very good. However, I had qualms with the seeming side arcs that were happening throughout the film, as if the writer lost focus on what his primary subject was: the fate of the star-crossed lovers or police immorality.

All in all, the story about a real-life couple will provoke you, and may possibly give you power to fight against the wrongness in your own personal life. Highly recommended!

BOTTOM LINE: Debutante Shanavas Bavakutty's "Kismath" is an enticing tale of two lovers who find themselves in the wrong place among wrong people for a blame which is not even their own. Rent a DVD now!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

As Good As Political Satire Can Get. ♦ Grade C+, 24 September 2016

There's enough realism in the script or at least in its loud inspiration to watch this comedy drama that speaks volumes about the backward mindset in rural India.

Arjun (Rahul Bagga) is a loafer who is falling in love with Maya (Hrishitaa Bhatt), a young and beautiful woman married to the foul- mouthed, sexagenarian village chief, Sualaal (Annu Kapoor). Maya seeks shelter from Arjun and silently finds happiness in him, owing to Sualaal's inability to be a proper husband, with poor performance in bed and verbal as well as physical abuse. Naturally, when one day, Sualaal finds out about Arjun's illicit relation with his wife, he beats him up and publicly accuses him of raping his award-winning buffalo, named, for FIR purposes, Miss Tanakpur.

The story is as wicked as it sounds, which the writers have credited to real-life happenings in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. How a backward system with enough corruption mixed into it treats its men based on ruthless bias is the central topic of the film. In rural areas like the one shown in the film, the powerful continuously oppress the powerless, even leading to countless fatalities, in some cases. Arjun's family has to go through a harrowing time once he is arrested: his sister's marriage is disavowed, his father tries to kill himself, and his mother slowly moves to the path of atheism. It is startling to watch the story, told in a rather clumsy way, unfold in front of your eyes when you know that something like this has happened, or at least, has the merit to happen in today's world.

There is enough humor for an average Indian to perceive here. But, the B-grade shade the film has in its dialogues and slapstick may turn few off. People's blind faith on idol worshiping, graft among policemen, the judicial system - there's everything in here. Some very interesting sequences are gelled together to ignite emotions, driven by powerful performance by Kapoor. Sanjai Mishra and Om Puri are mostly seen fooling around. Bagga should brush up his blunt areas, and it was good to see Bhatt after a long time. Ravi Kishan as Sualaal's slavish helper is typecast.

I had been stalling this watch for quite a long time, but it eventually proved worthwhile. A good afternoon watch.

BOTTOM LINE: Vinod Kapri's "Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho" is not a laugh riot, but it proves a point and chafes on the harsher realities of rural India through a comic container. Rent a DVD.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

Banjo (2016)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Music To Ears, Not. ♦ Grade F, 23 September 2016

Ravi Jadhav is a filmmaker whom I adore, for making Marathi films like Balak Palak (2012) and Natarang (2010), to name a few. Unfortunately, his foray into Bollywood with a musical drama does not really impress.

Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is a small-time extortionist who works for a local politician in the day and plays street music with his squad in the night. When he meets Christina (Nargis Fakhri), an aspiring musician from the Big Apple who is in Mumbai in lookout for a music group whom she can collaborate with, Taraat instantly falls head over heels in love with her. This drives him to become a better man and subsequently forces him to cajole his group to make music so that Christina can participate in a talent contest. This nth variation of a seemingly original story is what the film is all about, along with some boring side arcs that only add noise to this otherwise sloppy "single".

Banjo tries too hard to showcase a story, where in reality, there is none. It's a faulty re-rendering of stories about aspiring musicians who want to make it big in this competitive world. (Did anyone say Rock On!! (2008)? Maybe Rock On!! 2 (2016)? No? Never mind.) And how do you do that? By growing long hair, looking dope, and banging on instruments like they are scrap materials. Taraat is a delinquent person who just wants to get into Christina's pants, but hopes to take it slow. The comedy is very average and will only lead to two to four chuckles throughout the 140-minute slow-moving affair.

Fakhri should probably just stop acting and stick to modelling. Her co-star Deshmukh tries hard, but one blames the fruitless script more. Supporting cast is mostly present to handle comedy, but are found to be accidentally inducing over-smart drama. Basically, the characters move here and there and bang on instruments in order to produce music which the audience are supposed to think is pure gold.

There's a sequence where Christina tries to improve the group's morale by citing success stories of popular musicians like 50 Cent, Jimi Hendrix, The Bee Gees, and Led Zeppelin. If you are a fan of at least one of these, you should skip Banjo and go see Parched (2016) instead.

BOTTOM LINE: Ravi Jadhav's "Banjo" is an ambitious film that fails because of poor writing and a very bad voice. Switch channels during the TV premiere.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

Superstitions Break The House. ♦ Grade A-, 19 September 2016

The golden era of Malayalam cinema ran from mid-1980s through early 1990s, during which we were rewarded with some of the greatest films by some of the greatest writers and directors. This heartbreaking drama is one of the best of that era.

Balan (Mammootty) is an educated school teacher who lives with his extended family including his paternal uncle who is believed to be mentally ill. The belief that this illness is hereditary and originated due to sins committed by their ancestors has kind of divided the family, but no one wants to be vocal about it except Gopi (Mukesh), Balan's kid brother. While Balan himself does not believe in these superstitions, he gives in to his family's requests of holding sacred events regularly at their house. Because, there are tons of problems associated with this issue, the biggest among them being his sister who has been denied matrimony a good number of times. However, when the uncle dies, a demand arises for the family's as well as the society's informal consensus as to who will step into the shoes of the symbol of lunacy since the illness is hereditary. Blaming himself for the death of his uncle, Balan is unable to completely mourn his death, causing others to immediately tag him as the successor, throwing his world upside down.

Balan's is a staple character of a Kerala household where he is regarded as the knowledgeable patriarch and who is the only sane person of the lot. And Lohithadas' story is based on uprooting his inherent reputation due to man-made madness. Idolaters are aplenty in this world and when these idols are blamed for perfectly normal happenings, things are going to worsen, as Balan experiences it the hard way. It is disheartening to see the downfall of a sane person only because the belief that something can go wrong due to a curse.

Mammooty is sharp in his approach, staying in his character all through the end. Supported by a well-directed cast, Sibi Malayil carves a fine outline to speak volumes about the madness that are superstitions and how they dictate our lives. The pace at which the final 20 minutes move has the ability to startle you, and you will be wondering for days about the ending and the meaning of life. Someone in here has rightly started their review with Franz Kafka's "The Trial", but I also want to add that there's a little bit of Camus here, too. All in all, the drama is an emotional power-ride of a film that demands appreciation.

BOTTOM LINE: Sibi Malayil's "Thaniyavartanam" is a perfect study of superstitions and their dire effects on perishable humans. Highly recommended!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

Pink (2016/III)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
NO Means NO. ♦ Grade B+, 16 September 2016

Rarely come in Bollywood films that provoke you, reignite a topic of grave importance, unleash fury in you so much that it stays with him or her for a long time. One such film is "Pink", a highly engrossing courtroom crime drama by Bengali filmmaker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury.

Minal (Tapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari), and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) are three independent working women who live alone in a rented apartment in the capital city of India. Following a night of drunken brawl with some men they met at a rock concert, the trio come back home in a state of exponential disquietude. What really happened towards the end of the night at a hotel where the trio and the men met and further partied post the concert is not clear, save for one immediate consequence: one of the men had to be rushed to the hospital. What follows is a harrowing story about a study on assumptions that society as a whole makes on people, especially women. Hence, one guesses, the title, "Pink".

The film does not describe what really happened that night, and one has to wait for the second half to get some deep insights into the matter as the scene shifts to a Sessions Court where Deepak (Amitabh Bachchan), a reputed lawyer, comes out of retirement to enable the female trio a chance at vindicating themselves after they were picked up by the police for crimes that they say they didn't do. One can connect the dots here, but that is where one will go wrong as the story gathers pace and proves you wrong. The plot will have you flummoxed for it does not take side as to who - the unruly group of four men or the trio of liberal and rebellious fashionista women - are at fault. What could have been averted with just an apology blows out of proportion when the male group use the hand of politics that is resting on their shoulders to settle scores with the female group who also are not fully of one mind about a possible compromise. It goes to show that today's youth - or let me be more general - today's people, practice vendetta more than pacifism, and the blame is on feudalism, which has mutated itself to an ultra-strong force that produces madness in today's world.

One will be impressed and hooked with the narrative in 30 minutes, guaranteed. While police apathy is one theme it touches upon, Pink is largely about what today's society, with its feudal roots, assumes when a woman consumes alcohol, when she hangs out with her male friends, when she keeps a casual relationship with that widower, when she has casual sex with that librarian she met while discussing Franz Kafka's "The Trial", or when she wears that transparent-lace brassiere - the possibilities are endless. It focuses on the futile point that a woman's (or a man's) character is defined by their behavior, their demeanor, their air at a given point of time and at a given location. It strains to enlighten us with the fact that this assumption is rubbish and full of void. It narrates the assumptions in strong points, delivered, some as innuendos ad others as clearly as text written on iron, by the talented Piyush Mishra as solicitor defending the male group. It also has a lot to say about the discrimination of Indians against their own brothers and sisters who hail from the Northeast, a topic which was most recently reignited by a TV commercial. The courtroom sequences are well-edited, but are slightly cheesy if not fast-paced for an audience whose senses have been numbed by the likes of Great Grand Masti (2016) and Freaky Ali (2016). A much- needed jolt to their senses, this film embraces realism wherever required and furnishes a story that is divinely appropriate and fabulously timed, just to convey an important message: that when a woman says NO, it means NO.

The three actresses are marvelous and well-directed. There's not a single frame where they go out of character, helping the story to reveal itself using their own portrayals as windows of loud expressions. Sometimes, the most difficult characters to play are the ones that are so close to real life. Amitabh Bachchan again comes up and impresses his audience, hat-tricking his bout of roles that are aligned in the same column of crime thrillers. Mishra and supporting cast are very good, and happy to see Dhritiman Chatterjee. The film works partially because of the cast and their performance, along with some crisp writing, easy screenplay, and a subtle, but loud score.

The 150-minute drama does, of course, have its share of flaws, but not substantial enough to affect your viewing or enjoyment. The courtroom scenes don't always sample realism, but that can be forgiven as a cinematic liberty taken by Mr. Chowdhury and writer Ritesh Shah. The hand of political influence which the male group were banking on fails to advance inside the court as is not what usually happens, either in real or reel life. But, one doesn't have time to pinpoint these petty flaws in the film because he or she also wants to assume that the women are not guilty or that the men are not guilty; this way, even the plot tries to play with you, making you believe in smoke and mirrors.

It partially reminds one of Quentin Tarantino's debut, Reservoir Dogs (1992), where the actual scene of the heist is never shown. Here, the actual scene is not clearly shown unless you are patient enough. So, don't miss the end credit roll.

BOTTOM LINE: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's debut Bollywood feature "Pink" is gritty, relevant, and a well-executed film that demands immediate viewing for it will be quoted in numerous occasions as we leap forward with a backward mind. Book a theater ticket now!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Errors In The System; Could Not Reboot. ♦ Grade F, 16 September 2016

Modern Bollywood horror films tend to unintentionally induce humor, and this fourth installment in the popular Raaz franchise is no different.

Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) and her husband Rehaan (Gaurav Arora) have just moved to Romania, the birth place of Count Dracula. While Shaina is hoping to start a family here, Rehaan is preoccupied with something, which the audience have to assume to be what the title suggests (a secret). He behaves like he has ants in his pants and refuses to help her with her mission despite of it being a tempting one. As one can predict, it doesn't take much time for Shaina to experience ghost- like occurrences in the mansion that they live in, and before soon, she is possessed with a so-called spirit. Rehaan regrets his recent rude behavior with his wife, and scrambles to make her sane again, with the help of psychometric, the only new and interesting topic in the whole film.

I will say this straight out: there's nothing new in the film, which we could have easily guessed, given that the title suggests pretty much everything it had in store for us. Life of a seemingly happy couple turns upside down when one of them gets possessed whereas the unaffected one tries to pull some strings and chants "Hail Mary!" along with that weirdo of an exorcist to make the person sane again. Typical story-line straight out of the horror genre shelf, with some tweaks here and there in dribs and drabs. Emraan Hashmi comes out of a possible fugue state and enters the scene halfway and convolutes the plot just so people could distinguish between the films in the franchise in future. Otherwise, no one would be able to tell the four films apart from each other, save the mercy of the non-recurring actors.

There are lots of problems (or errors, as I like to call them here) with the plot and the way the characters speak with each other. Of course, the CBFC was right when it accused the film of using f-words non-sparingly. The ghost in the film seems to be a real performer, providing glimpses of her repertoire while she is in the act of scaring other characters. Her diction is pretty narrow and words obviously hated by CBFC takes up half of it. The fact that the plot unfolds in an exotic place like Romania does not even start to help the film from slipping down the drain.

Hashmi is the only bearable person. Poor man's Karan Singh Grover, Gaurav Arora, looks like he came right out of the Love Games (2016) sets and pretended he was kicking up a fight with his co-star of that film, Patralakeha. No chemistry between any of the couples in the film, unless you consider contrived scenes involving foreplay as romance.

Hasmi's films are usually a one-time affair, but this one did not even get the songs right, which is a travesty.

BOTTOM LINE: Vikram Bhatt's "Raaz: Reboot" tries to reboot itself by manually going to the Windows start menu, clicking on the Power option, and then confirming Restart. The only problem is that before it can complete the action, it gets the infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) error, which can only be rectified if you "shut down and then try again". Skip it!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Diaries That We Have Read Before. ♦ Grade B-, 15 September 2016

I am personally in love with Indian independent cinema as it currently stands. In spite of a measly reception by the audience of films that released in the previous half of this decade, filmmakers are still producing them. And this engrossing drama comes as a testament to the fact that good films are still being made.

Imli (Raima Sen) is a cinema enthusiast who dreams of acting in films, but is currently employed as a prostitute in Kolkata. So, when a creative director knocks at her brothel's door in search of a solid story, Imli opens her heart with the hope of landing a role. Few thousand kilometers away from her is UP guy, Rohit (Salim Diwan), a soaked-up BPO professional who also wants to become an actor in Bollywood. After multiple failed attempts at impressing directors, Rohit signs up for a talent show associated with a film, where he hopes to make it big. In the neighboring state of Delhi lives Vishnu (Asish Vidyarthi), a to-be-retired accounts manager, who wants to pursue his childhood passion of acting. But, before he can do that, he has to cross one more hurdle: his health.

Hope is what drives these three characters as the film narrates their stories in linear fashion. All of them want to be actors, which is not a novel thing, when it comes to Bollywood dramas or story arcs. But, these stories do not look one bit contrived. They originate out of ordinary people who have led boring lives and now want to create a spark. While Imli's story may be clichéd, Vishnu's and Rohit's stories are what drives the film and gives it its quality. Driven by some good music and unpolished linear narration, they induce empathy. The sequences will generate emotive reactions in you as you will engross yourself in finding out what happens to these characters who are so loyal and hardworking and hopeful to their cause, that eventually even you may chip in your hope for them.

The whole cast do a very good job. But, I have to strain on the three central actors, who put in their 100 percent. It is not easy to portray characters that have possible real-life semblances, and Sen, Vidyarthi, and Diwan do it perfectly. Director K D Satyam has used familiar stories and created a film full of life, that is fairly entertaining.

Not to forget, the film does have its dull moments, but that should now come in between your enjoyment.

BOTTOM LINE: K D Satyam's "Bollywood Diaries" triumphs at telling stories so close to Bollywood, that it is both ironic and heartbreaking. Take a bow, guys! Buy DVD or stream it online now!

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

Chauranga (2014)
Dull Colours. ♦ Grade C-, 12 September 2016

Films about discrimination in general are hard to watch, but not this slow-paced crime-drama by debutante Bikas Ranjan Mishra.

Santu (Soham Maitra) and Bajrangi (Riddhi Sen) are two teenager of a Dalit caste who live with their mother, Dhaniya (Tannistha Chatterjee), in a village dominated by upper caste self-proclaimed politician, Dhaval (Sanjay Suri). As a perfect hypocrite, Dhaval preaches caste discrimination to the outer world, but stoops inside Dhaniya's sari when it comes to his sexual needs, worsening his matrimony in the process. While Bajrangi goes to town to study, Santu roams around during the day observing the departure and arrival of Mona, Dhava;s'd pretty daughter. The scene is rather disturbed as the lower caste families are oppressed and exploited by the upper caste people - the likes of Dhaval and his highly volatile supporters like Raghu (Anshuman Jha).

Nothing substantial happens in the first 60 minutes, as the only things you will see is Santu playing with his contraption, hanging from a tree, ogling at Mona and possibly her developing breasts, whose intricate information he derived from Bajrangi's high school Science textbook. He plans to profess his love to her, and assigns his brother to write a love letter, without realizing that it would come back to bite him in the eye. The focus is largely on Santu's daily inconsequential escapades and Dhaval's parents who seem to be characters straight out of a religious book. There's also this obsession over pigs and their kidnapping and the speculation of them giving birth to farrow, which seems somehow tied to the people's idol-worshiping habits.

Towards the ending, things take a serious turn and the real message starts getting transmitted. That Dalits are oppressed by the dominants by the hour, which is also evident from the closing epigraph.

Tannishtha Chatterjee is wonderful, and I declare her the actress of the year 2016. After showcasing her acting chops in UnIndian and Parched which released this year, I can surely tell her that she's one of the leading actresses in the independent cinema scene. Sanjay Suri and the kids do a good job, but they more or like do what they were told. Supporting cast is fine.

The theme is very relevant to the current times, but I'm afraid the message gets blurred as it seeps through the cracks that are gaps in the film due to the slow pace.

BOTTOM LINE: Bikas Ranjan Mishra's "Chauranga" could be a real depiction of the multi-colored lives we witness in this cruel world, but what it really is is a stream of colors that have become dull due to over-strain. Watch it on a free Netflix plan.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO

Chayilliam (2012)
Bold, But Shallow. ♦ Grade D+, 12 September 2016

Chayilyam is one of those slow-moving narratives which has a strong story to tell, but fails to impress due to its shoddy execution.

Gowri (Anumol) is a young widow who, along with her ten-year-old son, lives at her in-laws' place after her father-in-law (M R Gopakumar), an ayurvedic medical practitioner and a village chief, realises that they are the only ones who are left as a memory of his son. However, her entry into the chief's house raises backlash from other village chiefs and members, mainly because he had dubbed his son as an outcast after he had eloped with Gowri eleven years ago. Giving a safe haven to the wife of an outcast person is, however, considered sacrilegious by the villagers. This forces, either naturally or voluntarily, for Gowri to behave abnormally, forcing the villagers at large to believe that a Goddess has taken shelter in her body, further causing them to revere here. This not only wreaks havoc to Gowri's otherwise normal life, but also pits her against a sea of faith- blind and highly superstitious people. Things take a murky turn when she is requested to pose as a Goddess in an upcoming annual religious event, where she has to BE the Goddess herself rather than just pretending to be one, which comes with a list of egregious requisites.

This premise is very interesting, for it provides insight into how certain villages in India (still) follow such rules dictated by idol-worshipping and blind theism. It essentially shows how a woman, in fervent distress, is initially reprimanded for her actions, and then worshipped for the uncalculated consequences of these actions. However, the way this has been conveyed is rather unpolished and dull. It took the makers around 90 minutes to tell this story, but instead of showcasing the hardships of the woman, they often deviated from the topic.

Director Manoj Kana definitely does not fear the naysayers or the religious idiots. Because, the sequences that he captures are bold enough to scorn any religious Johnny out there. The story samples menstruation as a sin, unlawful coitus, unemployment, and other serious religious offences to tell a story about hardships faced by women in a country which is still backward, at least in terms of equality and cultural norms.

Anumol does a fantastic job as Gowry, with her efforts clear as sky. Supporting cast do a good job, as well, but it is the narration that makes this a one-time afternoon watch. And that, too, if you are interested in art-house cinema.

BOTTOM LINE: Manoj Kana's "Chayilyam" is a dull film talking about an intriguing subject. Watch it on YouTube.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO

Thilothama (2015)
Slipshod. ♦ Grade F, 11 September 2016

Director Preethi Panikkar's film which pivots around a murder is neither a mystery nor a thriller, but a mixture of rowdy comedy and unbearable drama.

Rosie (Rachana Narayanankutty) is a singer who makes her ends meet by singing, and exposing her body to patrons at clubs and liquor bars. Together with her cougar friends, she is having the time of her life. Until when she witnesses a murder at the hands of an unscrupulous businessman (Siddique). Making a run for her life, she reports to the nearest police station whose chief advises her to hide out at a convent hostel run by nuns. This episode is estimated to change her lousy life forever.

The story is straight out of a rundown crime drama, only the problem with this reproduction is its shoddy execution. Characters cracking cheap jokes with pornographic innuendos, introducing slapstick in sequences that demand seriousness, and singing songs like all's well - are some of the highlights of the story which has nothing to offer other than the central character's scornful face.

Nothing much can be expected from Narayankutty for she mainly sticks to a single expression and air throughout the 140 minutes of runtime. The supporting cast, most of them fresh out of comedy reality shows, try to add humor into everything and often do not succeed. It is disheartening to see veterans like Siddique and Manoj K Jayan being a part of such embarrassing creations where it is evident that the makers had no vision in mind, but just wanted to make these actresses dance to their tunes and give in to the male gaze. But I'm sure it didn't work.

BOTTOM LINE: Preethi Panikkar's "Thilothama" is a stale bread which should be thrown where it belongs: a dustbin. Change the channel if and when it premieres on TV.

Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES

Page 1 of 77:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]