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Life Is Beautiful (2012)
World lives on hope
Outing from Sekhar Kammula is anticipated with bated breath. In the past he has demonstrated his craft and story-telling skills.
The director has demonstrated sensitivity which gets reflected in every character including the pet dog. As always all the characters are fleshed out well, especially female (Sekhar Kammula's forte). The actor have given their best, or should we say the talented director has helped to realise their true potential. The screenplay is fluid and the movie engrosses you right from the word go. The sub-plots fit like glove in a hand into the main storyline.
Its good to see Amla & Anjala Zaveri after a long time. Shriya Saran as always does "stop the press" when she appears in the frame.
DOP has done a great job which gives you the feel of the environment. Music is light and breezy. Just like in "Happy Days" major portions of the plot seem autobiographical, which makes the audience have an instant connect.
The only short-coming is the length which makes the movie sag in the latter half. Additonally one or two sub-plots should have been edited out as it gives an impression of TV series ie. too many events happening on the stage. On that note the movie reminded me of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Hum Hindustani".
Overall, a must watch and roll on the next one Sekhar Kammula.
3G - A Killer Connection (2013)
Abysmal, don't even bother
Fiji Islands is the only good thing about this movie - its gorgeous and breathtaking to the effect that you would seriously contemplate your next holiday in there. And then all good things come to an end.
The plot is hackneyed. The screenplay is incoherent making the proceedings unbearable. Coming from the writers of "Table No. 21" my expectations were on a higher note.
Niel Nitin Mukesh cannot act, period. Sonal Chouhan makes a good attempt and showcases her svelte body in the choicest costumes. Few songs stand out. DOP is excellent.
Watch it only with a group of your best buddies and make a spoof of every scene - yes, at-least it would serve a good laugh.
Mere Dad Ki Maruti (2013)
It had all the makings of "Band Bajaa Baraat", sadly it has too too many ingredients cramming into. The pace of the proceedings, the layers and the number of sub-plots fused into the narrative makes the comedy turns into confusion. Seriously the director should have first built the premise on a track or two and layered it as you go along.
Saqib Saleem attempts hard and to a certain extent makes himself noticeable. Otherwise a poor man's "Ranveer Singh".
Rhea is loud with zero acting abilities. A few of her costumes is atrocious.
Ram Kapoor is over-the-top. His character should have been fleshed out before getting into the ranting spree at every available opportunity.
Ravi Kishan stands out with his dialogue delivery and performance.
The writing on the wall is clear, the production house has fabricated the Mika-Honey Singh controversy just to garner publicity. Nonetheless a few tracks stand out.
Save your money to watch it on when aired on telly anytime soon and you have nothing more productive to do.
PS: And yes too much Punjabi in the movie can be a sore thumb.
Poor man's Magadheera
The writing on the wall is clear: the mega success & ringing cash- registers of "Magadheera" has prompted the makers to attempt "Badarinath". Sadly none in the production team cared less to deliver a good Chandamama story. Everyone seems to be blinded by the glitter and gloss of the production values that results in a soulless pot boiler called "Badrinath".
Allu Aravind has put in lots of effort especially in the action sequences. Sadly he should have concentrated on his performance too.
Tamanna plays as usual the glam-doll, a stereo type character she prefers.
Prakash Raj is loud.
Kelly Dorjee & Ashwini Kalsekar are passable.
The plot opens up with lots of promise but sadly loses it steam as it chugs along and passes through the predictable path offering nothing new to the audience in terms of novelty.
"Magadheera" was a game-changer. It awakened the mythological sentiments which was lying dormant in the Telugu audience. And certainly the credit goes to the unstinted effort poured by Rajamouli. V V Vinayak clearly has a long way to go before he can make a mark for himself.
The Attacks of 26/11 (2013)
At the core, the soul is missing
Any story based on real-life events can only connect if it has a soul thereby making an instant connect with the audience. In the case of "The Attacks of 26/11" only after Kasab is captured the human side begins to surface. Until this point in time, the entire proceedings seem to be a documentary devoid of any emotion what so ever. If the writer/ director would have addressed this right from the first frame "The Attacks of 26/11" would have been a different experience altogether.
Sanjeev Jaiswal as Kasab is first class. Delivers a master-piece performance. Atul Kulkarni was wasted in a minuscule role and perhaps warranted better footage. Nana Patekar comes alive only after the capture of Kasab and is a treat to watch him portray the Joint Police Comissioner. Pre-dominantly "The Attacks of 26/11" appears to Rakesh Maria's version of what happened back then.
Yes, its a great attempt but could have been definitely better.
Race 2 (2013)
"Race" was truly an classy thriller loaded with serpentine twists. A benchmark so high that warranted the makers to surpass if not match. Sadly the franchise clearly is out for the money that can be milked and therefore loses its steam.
For starters instead of taking the linear continuation, the franchise should have been independent in its own right. Too many references to "Race" spoil the proceedings.
Anil Kapoor sadly resorted to gawdy adult jokes. Ameesha Patel, the bimbo secretary was a stocking filler for Sameera Reddy which I am sure nobody cared. Saif reprised his role and look from the first one. Bipasha has a two-minute cameo. Jacqueline & Deepika attempted to fill the void of Katrina and failed miserably. On that note, Jacqueline has the looks and the style to carry it off - sadly lacks in acting department. John Abraham seems to reprising his role from "Dhoom" only this time around steals bits and pieces from "Force" to showcase his chiseled body in the match sequences. Aditya Pancholi is passable.
Pritam has done full justice to the music and is in line with the first "Race". And thats the only saving grace about this sequel.
Outsourced "retired" life
Managing to get the loaded star cast under the single roof AND the journey to India keeps you guessing if "Love Actually" is travelling on "The Darjeling Limited" to .see the "Slumdog Millionaire". Nonetheless its a heartwarming story
Judi Dench: Clearly she steals the show and her performance is miles away from the rest.
Tom Wilkinson: Best track compared to the others and he shines.
Bill Nighy: I never expected a subdued performance pulled off with such great conviction.
Maggie Smith: Keep the audience engrossed at all times.
Dev Patel: Every time he opened his mouth it seemed he was a cyborg in disguise. Otherwise his character had lots of potential to showcase his talent.
Tena Desae: Poor man's "Freida Pinto".
A definite one-time watch to get a slice of how would it be like to have a retired life outsourced to India.
Child at heart
Outings like "Gattu" deserve a bit more buzz, at least to encourage the team for their conviction and the spirit. "Gattu" is very much child at heart and off late its great to see movies like "Stanley Ka Dabba", "Chillar Party", "I am Kalam" are being attempted. Yes, "Gattu" falls under the same remit.
Kite flying and obsessions around it make you travel back in time. The school environment is realistically captured. Without giving away too much I would say its a definite one time watch, and yes "Gattu" ensures grabs the attention of young audience within the first 10-minutes.
Performance of every character is true to life - amazing!
Way to go.....
Student of the Year (2012)
KJo's attempts Archie comics
KJo changed gears with his earlier outing "My Name Is Khan" in a attempt to create milestone in Indian cinema. When the same was received with lukewarm response KJo decided to revert to his "Kuch Kuch Hota Hain" roots, a story primarily skirting in the college campus. Whether KJo is actually growing in terms of calibre and goes a few notches up with SOTY is left to viewers discretion.
The fresh trio do pack a punch in terms of performance. The highlight of the pack is definitely Sidharth Malhotra and if I may dare say has a screen presence and a debut on the likes of Ranveer Singh. Alia Bhatt is amazing, thanks to the KJo who manages to present the very best of her. Varun Dhawan at this point in time appears to be overshadowed by the two but I am sure he is promising in his own right to carve his identity. Rishi Kapoor, okay a gay character but in hindsight was the track warranted? Ram Kapoor's character could have been fleshed out well as now he appears to be step-father. Gautami Kapoor can put Dharma productions in her CV, meaning her role is no more than decorative piece. Boman Irani - why was he there for a blink-and-miss role?
In terms of writing, the spirit of campus is well captured and perhaps had room to build more had it stayed away from KJo's sensibilities. There are quite a lot of layers in the movie and as stated earlier a few of them unwarranted. The last ten minutes are a big downer in terms of writing.
Songs as always coming from Dharma are chart busters, choreographed well by his loyalists Farah, Vaibhavi & Remo. And yes for those who haven't watched "Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander" SOTY would be a good start.
Raaz 3: The Third Dimension (2012)
Sell your soul to devil
"Raaz 3" cleverly utilises the success of the franchise and ropes in from the original the director Vikram Bhatt and actress Bipasha Basu (thank God, Dino Morea was permitted to stay away!).
Writer Shagufta Ali fences the plot quite well - a waning actress who can go any lengths to retain the crowning glory and succumbs to making use of black magic as a weapon of destruction.
Bipasha gives her best shot however appears she was over-doing it and if I may dare say flaunting her body she has toned over the unemployment years. Emraan Hashmi's character is not well etched out. Eesha Gupta manages a decent performance considering she is a newbie in comparison. And yes, Bipasha & Shagufta as half-sisters - bad writing.
Songs are OK carrying the signature Mahesh Bhatt feel. Director Vikram Bhatt who has developed core competence in the genre of horror does a decent job. On that note, the writer could have polished the edges to give that sheen it warranted.
For those who believe, no explanation is necessary - for those who don't, no explanation is possible!
Released in 1980's "Gehrayee" was a misfit given the realms of horror genre as defined by Ramsay's (read that as soft porn). Whilst audience were expecting to be titillated with skimpy outfits, deep cleavages, rape scenes here "Gehrayee" delivered none. Today when intelligent thrillers like "Manichithrathazhu/ Chandramukhi/ Bhool Bhulaiyaa" are appreciated, in comparison "Gehrayee" was ahead of its times.
The screenplay is awesome, within first 15-minutes you are sucked into the narrative. Authencity of the Kannada culture plays a vital role. Background score elevates the viewing experience. There is no over the top production values, the sets are down to earth and you almost feel moving around in them.
Shreeram Lagoo represents the logical/ rational mind within all of us. Indrani Mukherjee is the typical dutiful Indian wife for whom Pati is Parmeshwar. Anant Nag represents the hot young blood - opposer. Using the character of Padmini Kolhapure the director tags us into the path of unknown. Amrish Puri appears in a short role and leaves a lasting impact (was Maularam inspired from Puttachary?). Sudhir Dalvi does his part with utmost grace. Rita Bhaduri is practically in a special appearance. Anant Nag's girlfriend hardly contributed to the proceedings. Song by Kishore Kumar/ Laxmikant-Pyarelal/ Gulzar was of no use. The director duo have done a commendable job. A must watch intelligent thriller.
The Terminator (1984)
It all begins here.....
The first time I watched "The Terminator" was around 1988 and was blown away with "action meets sci-fi". Needless to say it quickly made its way into my Top-3 list translating into multiple/ frequent viewings. When I caught up again recently, I found that "The Terminator" manages to hold the same charm and novelty as it did decades ago.
Sarah Connor became a synonymous name. Arnold Schwarzenegger had yet another feather to his cap. "The Terminator" literally catapulted James Cameron into the big league, sort of Spielberg with his passion for science fiction and pushing the limits for CGI. Needless to say when he announced a sequel, fans waited with bated breath.
The direction and CGI by 1984 standards was well ahead of its time, no sluggish or choppy feel to it. Background score elevated the action sequences and the signature tune went to attain cult status. The narrative ensures edge-of-seat excitement. "The Terminator" certainly qualifies in "100 movies to watch before you die".
Land Gold Women (2011)
To live and die for
"Land Gold Women" is a brave attempt on the subject of honour killing that has splashed across the media. Professor of History in University of Birmingham is having mid-life crisis and finds himself at crossroads when his teenage daughter is dating a "kaffir". The subject is bold and potential immense, however gets washed down owing to lack to depth. The patriarch is simply shown yearning for his motherland by brooding over nostalgic songs. His character could have elevated by examining his social network after the onset of 9/11 and religious affinity which gets aggravated by the arrival of his staunch and imposing brother. Om Puri in "East is East" is a perfect example where trivial things make up a complete character which can speak volumes on itself. But that shouldn't steal the thunder from Avantika Hari for her brave effort to undertake a road lesser travelled.
In terms of performances, Narinder Samra stands out with a theatre like performance infusing life into the character of Nazir Ali Khan. Next its Hassani Shapi who gets into the skin of Riyaaz Ali Khan ensuring you will hate the very sight of him. Renu Brindle compliments nicely. Neelam Parmar as the daughter is strictly okay. The two lawyers though do a good job was an unwarranted track that could have been done away with.
PS: The three elements in which tribal honour is preserved are Zameen, Zar (Zevar) and Joru (Aurat) ie. land, gold and women.
Marriages are made in heaven, coerced on earth
A story based in a land where anything goes - law is farcical, egos larger than life-size and respect supreme. "Antardwand" has a realistic take on the practise of groom abduction. Parallel cinema has never been so good.
Vinay Pathak and Akhilendra Mishra are the only recognisable faces whilst rest of the star cast comprises of practically new faces. Akhilendra Mishra reprises the usual character he normally does but for those who are expecting a funny bone from Vinay Pathak, be warned. He is serious as any patriarch can be, proving he is damn good at what he envelopes. Raj Singh Chaudhary as Raghu Veer and Swati Sen as Janki deliver great performances. Himanshi as Sia represents urban bred girlfriend whose segment is narrated in flashbacks.
The entire team of "Antardwand" deserve to be applauded for a brave attempt.
PS: Not for weak hearted, Strong gut warranted. And yes - not only you will forget all the matrimonial jokes but feel guilty as well.
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012)
Breezy candy floss rom-rom
Coming from the house of Karan Johar, the promos are bound leave no stone unturned to ensure the visibility of "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" is high and garners fabulous opening at the box-office. "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" is a feel good rom-com with all the ingredients in adequate proportions. The songs are catchy ensuring they hold top position on the charts especially the title track and "Auntyji". Comedy is good ensuring the audience is entertained at regular intervals.
Imran Khan has evolved into a consistent performer who is getting better with each passing movie. Kareena Kapoor attempts to reprise her "Jab We Met" character Geet. Boman Irani, Ratna Pathak, Ram Kapoor and Anju Mahendru lend adequate support star cast. Shakun Batra as a first-timer holding directorial reigns knows his job well.
Finally the pertinent question - does "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" match up to "Jab We Met" since similarities are many? Lets just say "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" is a poor-man's "Jab We Met". Watch it and you will know why.
A gripping thriller
Sujoy Ghosh weaves a mother of a story with "Kahaani" proving that he is a fine story-teller and "Alladin" was just a glitch. Not only he reclaims lost ground but strikes back with gusto. The writing and execution is taut giving a edgy thriller feel. "Dhobi Ghat" had Mumbai, "Delhi Belly" had Delhi - Kolkatta doesn't get left behind and gets showcased in "Kahaani" in full glory to the extent you would state that it is one of the rare movies where a city is used as a backdrop, alleviating the viewing experience.
Vidya Balan is nearly on the verge of a home run and the success of "Kahaani" is yet another feather in her cap. Parambrata Chatterjee has written dark horse all over with his subtle and restraint delivery. Saswata Chatterjee leaves an impression as a insurance agent who doubles up as a hit-man (though his character is borrowed from a Sidney Sheldon's works). Nawazuddin Siddiqui creates an impact in a role of a no-nonsense officer. Darshan Jariwala barely has a few minutes in total. The climax attempts to answer the riddles in the style of "The Usual Suspects" meaning warranting a second time watch - and honestly "Kahaani" deserves.
London Paris New York (2012)
London to Paris, Paris to New York!
Giving the devil its due "London Paris New York" manages to shine primarily because of the chemistry between the protagonists - Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari. It cannot be refuted that both have put in some serious homework before each shot was canned. Its evident that "London Paris New York" looked promising on paper, and Bollywood's answer to "When Harry Met Sally". Sadly the writing failed to translate the effect on the celluloid. The running time is about 100-minutes which gives an impression that the editing was super crisp, making you wish that certain parts should have been elaborated for the emotion to sink into the audience.
The three distinct looks in each chapters have been worked upon quite well. In terms of songs "Voh Dekhnay Mein" by Ali Zafar stands out while the rest seem force fit. Ali Zafar gets the entire canvas to showcase his talent and he utilises the opportunity quite well. He emulates Shah Rukh Khan but that shouldn't steal the thunder from this budding artiste. If not anything this movie should make the film fraternity to take notice of "Yeh Saali Zindagi" girl Aditi Rao Hydari. The supporting cast should have been done away completely (infact Dalip Tahil in a miss and blink role comes across tad stupid).
Anu Menon certainly knows to hold the directorial reigns and is a candidate to watch out for.
Puss in Boots (2011)
Milking the Shrek
First it was "Rio" and now its "Puss in Boots", both have the "Tex-Mex" flavour of tacos, nachos and jalapeños. The "Puss in Boots" character obviously is big time inspired by Antonio Banderas "Zorro". It adds the track of "Humpty Dumpty" to give a emotional side to his personality. And then we have "Kitty Softpaws" thrown in for a romantic angle. As always with the series, there are hoards of comic characters who have moved on with life and scare the living daylights to rob your childhood memories. Especially Jack & Jill whose have grown up to reprise the animated version of Bonnie & Clyde.
Don't get me wrong, it entertaining but. The plot moves on predictable lines. Animation has to lauded as its top-notch. Background score delivers a punch. You will walk out of the cinema with a feeling of having succumbed to the ransom by your little tykes and duped by production houses under the garb of franchise.
Way past sell by date
The makers deserve to be lauded for managing to secure a clever title "Ghost" ensuring to attract attention of every horror movie buff. Next to that everything about "Ghost" is rubbish. The entire affair is very amateur'ish that it gives an impression of a summer project or worse a B-grade venture. Had this movie been made about 20-years ago, it would have stood a chance to compete against then ruling the roost - the Ramsay Brothers. On that note, it carries the same flavour of blood and gore.
The screenplay is at its lowest ebb. The editor seems to have been coerced to retain every possible frame canned by the director leading to the proceedings at a snail's pace. The background score puts in best effort to inject fear factor. The CGI is poor and so is the performance of the actors which ensure to make you chuckle at regular intervals. Wonder what made Shiny Ahuja and Sayali Bhagat to participate in the project ("unemployment" perhaps?). Usage of name "Mary Magdalene" is in very bad taste.
PS: If you forget the plagiarism references, watch "?" which deserves to be a Bible for horror film making (atleast in Indian Cinema).
Why wasn't it frame-to-frame copy/paste?
The positive thing is the makers have legally acquired the remake rights of "The Italian Job". Sadly the rest is all negative about "Players". For starters the magnanimous star-cast was grossly under-utilised as there is hardly any character depth. Next the screenplay has holes which are about the size of craters. Its evident that handling big canvas was more than what the director-duo could chew. And in order to tweak the plot to Indian sensibilities the 15-minutes of the original has been stretched out till the interval. Add to that the overdose of emotional and noble/ philanthropist sentiments thrown in at epic proportions give an impression that the lead characters are straight out of the mythological age. The serpentine twists of the "Race" seems to have found its way into the plot in an attempt to keep the interest of the audience alive. The lame humour hardly evokes any laughs. Songs hardly register an impact.
Jr. Bachchan seems to have reprising his character from "Game". Sonam Kapoor attempts on weighing out Katrina Kaif, but sadly she is miles to go before she can sleep. Bobby Deol's role can be termed as a blink-and-miss and certainly he will shout foul. Sikander Kher and Bipasha Basu were wasted. Niel Nitin Mukesh attempts "Johhny Gaddar" and is no match for Ed Norton (Irfan Khan or Kay Kay would have been an ideal choice). Vinod Khanna was disappointing, perhaps his character lacks the suave touch he truly deserves.
Verdict: Watch "The Italian Job" to relive the adrenaline moments.
Rahul tum bhi? TUM BHI!
It would be extremely hard to imagine that Rahul Bose to star in "the scary movie". Satiating his tryst for horror genre his loyalist would say...... and flock in dozens to patronise it. Well not stealing the thunder, Rahul Bose single-handedly puts up a bravura performance. But as they say one swallow doesn't make summer. The guy who played the security-in-charge (Dinesh Lamba) compliments nicely with a decent performance. Nassar Abdulla reprises the same character he has been doing dozens of times earlier. Militza Radmilovic is passable.
The entire proceeding give an impression that the entire fare is nothing but a summer project executed by a group of students (read that B-grade flick). It pulls practically every trick up the sleeve to construe a horror movie including inspiration from Japanese horror.
It's the first time that an office has been used as a premise for a horror story which is a novelty indeed. So next time you wish to put in extra hours in the office, think twice!
PS: Its based on a true story - ROFL!
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Spielberg attempts his hand at animation
When it comes to bringing the character of Tintin alive on screen even the best of Hergé's fans would not dispute that the project was in safe hands of the creative genius Spielberg. And to top it up with 3D, makes it better than the best.
The grandeur and glory is undoubtedly at its best, however it leaves more to desire as you walk out of the cinemas. The narrative sways in pattern of troughs and crests. And the flashbacks which are far-too-many ensure it hits the bump at regular intervals. The 3D visuals might hold attention but after a while the novelty wears thin. The lighter moments of Haddock and Thompson Brothers seems to have failed to translate on screen.
To put in simple words, you fail to get that Pixar feeling (blistering barnacles!).
Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
1/3 "Millenium" series (Swedish)
Undoubtedly the audience ushering into cinemas would be as a result of hype, or better, have read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". And on both counts there's little chances of disappointment. The spirit and essence of the book is truly captured. Whilst a few unwanted tracks are avoided for the paucity of time, new dimensions are incorporated for character-depth. And it works, a big pat on the back for the screenplay.
To a large extent all the actors breath life into their respective portfolio. It cannot be refuted that Noomi Rapace ("Lisbeth") takes the top-spot as she steals the show. Mikael (Mikael Blomkvist) is next in line. The actor who played Henrik Venger comes across quite regal yet emotionally frail patriarch. The actor who donned the cap of Martin Vanger had potential to push the envelope.
The locations used in the movie is apt. Background score is engaging. The narrative used to translate the murder mystery in the book is lucid yet effective.
In the past there were Dan Brown, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and now the new word for hype is the "Millenium" series which has put Sweden on the world map. And finally it goes without saying that comparison are bound to be drawn with the American version, and one can safely profess that the Swedish version will stand to a good fight.
Don 2 (2011)
Panning out to a franchise
The first 20-minutes give you an impression that the team has hit the bulls eye, maybe like the first Don or perhaps even better. The last 20- minutes restores the graph with a gala finish. And in between, its James Bond undertaking Mission Impossible. The one-and-only heist is given far too much prominence in the storyline (watch "Entrapment" to get an idea on how back-to-back crimes are committed in quick succession).
SRK who adopts signature hamming in all his movies adds a new feather to his cap. For Don-2, he pouts and adopts shoulders-pulled-back gait. While the earlier Don was suave and stunningly good, here he is smeared with arrogance. The narrative warrants SRK to do a face/off for about 10-minutes, and you make a silent prayer that the act continues until the credits roll. Lara Dutta seems a replacement to Isha Koppikar. Priyanka Chopra continues to remain steadfast on her mission to nab her brother's killer. Not much of romantic sparks with Don/ Vijay in this one. Boman Irani and Kunal Kapoor were alright. Om Puri hardly had any meat in the role.
Unlike the first instalment music is a big downer as none of the numbers could hold themselves on the charts. On that note dialogues fail to register an impact and the one-liners seem lame. It became quite evident in the promos with "Don says.... THIS!" and "Don says.... THAT!"
Action sequences are well done. Background score was engaging. Editing is slick. Direction is first rate.
SRK should continue with this franchise with new instalment every 2- years thereby ensuring to pocket a guaranteed hit.
My Mom's New Boyfriend (2008)
Glitters at few places
"My Mom's New Boyfriend" has got what it takes, well nearly. It starts off on a very interesting note and builds up to a quite nice premise with adequate fresh gaffes sprinkled at regular intervals. Sadly it loses steam towards the end and becomes quite predictable. Meg Ryan is a big downer, she chugs and splutters all over the place. Antonio Banderas is smooth and suave, reprising his "Zorro" performance. Colin Hanks failed to deliver the goods thereby the movie doesn't quite register an impact. Selma Blair was merely a stocking filler. The climax portions seems to have been written by a 10-year old kid, very lame!
Verdict: Can pass off as a popcorn evening on a rainy day.