Review: QAIDI BAND

<div dir="ltr"><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Yet Another 'Rock Band' Underdog Film. Dullsville.</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>2 stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Undertrials are brought together by the jailer for a musical performance for the Independence Day program. The band brings the house down and become a social media rage (yes, it happens in the movies!). The minister wants to use them for his political propaganda for the elections and the jailer makes sure they don’t get out of jail. The band makes a daring escape and yes, there’s a ghastly but predictable Rock Band competition. Not just the band but every character is caricaturish, and the songs are soulless.</b></span><span> </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Such a surprise to see Yash Raj Films and Habib Faisal make something so terribly amateurish, you wonder where the logic has gone? Not a single film where young people form a ‘Rock Band’ and enter a competition as underdogs and win has made a single ripple in Bollywood. Not even a sequel to Rock On the film worked. But studios seem to want to introduce young talent as ‘rock stars’. If only these films came with songs that the audience really cares for, this review would be different.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>So let’s meet the band: Sanju (played by the brand new Yash Raj face, Adar Jain) is a cocky, undertrial and his catch a rat stunt is supposed to enamor us to him. Not. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Maskeen is a Sardar undertrial, who can play the keyboards and guitar.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Ogu is a Nigerian undertrial (the filmmakers make him rap, assuming all Black people know how to! Ugh!) </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Rufi is a B-Tech, MBA undertrial, who writes the songs for the band.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Bindu is undertrial (she was employed at a home to look after a six year old and the dad of the the child tries to rape her), so are Tatiyana (Ukranian girl, who came to India to act in Bollywood films) and Cyndy (gal from Nagaland, whose real name, ‘Sange’ gets used when the Jailer explains that she has been transferred to another jail).</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Using the word ‘Undertrials’ is grating, right? But the filmmakers don’t get it! It is explained and explained until you hope something else will soon happen. It does. Every undertrial seems to be either innocent or have a sob story that goes with the guilt. You begin to want to run out of the theatre into promised freedom, but you watch the band dance and sing ‘I am India’ and you cringe how Bollywood has not stopped copying an old musical show called Stomp. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The sob story saga of the inmates continues. The cops find weirder and odder ways to be mean to them. Of course the justice system is slow and that means no justice. The preaching is never ending too. Meanwhile you realise that the only person who is actually trying hard to keep the whole film together is the heroine, Bindu (played in all earnestness by Anya Singh, who looks more like the girl next door than the heroine).</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>And yes. Bollywood’s obsession with and underdog ‘Rock band’ becoming an Internet sensation just does not get over. It does not happen, not really. If only the filmmakers see how the audience scoffs at YouTube views counter running amok or comments that explain that the band is a sensation they would stop making such silly assumptions or tell the audience how social media works…</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Of course the band members (except the hero and heroine) are caught after they make a daring escape, they sing some more, they are tortured some more and you begin to check messages on the phone. The end is so illogical you wish you had watched their longest running movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge instead.</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)   </i></span><span> </span></div><br><div dir="ltr"><span>      </span></div><div><span><br></span></div></div>


Review: QAIDI BAND

<div dir="ltr"><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Yet Another 'Rock Band' Underdog Film. Dullsville.</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>2 stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Undertrials are brought together by the jailer for a musical performance for the Independence Day program. The band brings the house down and become a social media rage (yes, it happens in the movies!). The minister wants to use them for his political propaganda for the elections and the jailer makes sure they don’t get out of jail. The band makes a daring escape and yes, there’s a ghastly but predictable Rock Band competition. Not just the band but every character is caricaturish, and the songs are soulless.</b></span><span> </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Such a surprise to see Yash Raj Films and Habib Faisal make something so terribly amateurish, you wonder where the logic has gone? Not a single film where young people form a ‘Rock Band’ and enter a competition as underdogs and win has made a single ripple in Bollywood. Not even a sequel to Rock On the film worked. But studios seem to want to introduce young talent as ‘rock stars’. If only these films came with songs that the audience really cares for, this review would be different.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>So let’s meet the band: Sanju (played by the brand new Yash Raj face, Adar Jain) is a cocky, undertrial and his catch a rat stunt is supposed to enamor us to him. Not. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Maskeen is a Sardar undertrial, who can play the keyboards and guitar.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Ogu is a Nigerian undertrial (the filmmakers make him rap, assuming all Black people know how to! Ugh!) </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Rufi is a B-Tech, MBA undertrial, who writes the songs for the band.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Bindu is undertrial (she was employed at a home to look after a six year old and the dad of the the child tries to rape her), so are Tatiyana (Ukranian girl, who came to India to act in Bollywood films) and Cyndy (gal from Nagaland, whose real name, ‘Sange’ gets used when the Jailer explains that she has been transferred to another jail).</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Using the word ‘Undertrials’ is grating, right? But the filmmakers don’t get it! It is explained and explained until you hope something else will soon happen. It does. Every undertrial seems to be either innocent or have a sob story that goes with the guilt. You begin to want to run out of the theatre into promised freedom, but you watch the band dance and sing ‘I am India’ and you cringe how Bollywood has not stopped copying an old musical show called Stomp. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The sob story saga of the inmates continues. The cops find weirder and odder ways to be mean to them. Of course the justice system is slow and that means no justice. The preaching is never ending too. Meanwhile you realise that the only person who is actually trying hard to keep the whole film together is the heroine, Bindu (played in all earnestness by Anya Singh, who looks more like the girl next door than the heroine).</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>And yes. Bollywood’s obsession with and underdog ‘Rock band’ becoming an Internet sensation just does not get over. It does not happen, not really. If only the filmmakers see how the audience scoffs at YouTube views counter running amok or comments that explain that the band is a sensation they would stop making such silly assumptions or tell the audience how social media works…</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Of course the band members (except the hero and heroine) are caught after they make a daring escape, they sing some more, they are tortured some more and you begin to check messages on the phone. The end is so illogical you wish you had watched their longest running movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge instead.</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)   </i></span><span> </span></div><br><div dir="ltr"><span>      </span></div><div><span><br></span></div></div>


Review: BABUMOSHAI BANDOOKBAAZ

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><span><span><b><br></b></span></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><span><b>Men Are Ugly. Women Are Quick To Undress. </b></span></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>1 star</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Babu Bihari, the best gun for hire meets Banke Bihari who says he became a gun for hire too because he was inspired by Babu. There are two politicians who use both these men to kill each other’s men. Babu and Banke begin to share a strange friendship, until Banke shoots Babu on a contract. But Babu doesn’t die and returns to avenge his death. The story sounds fine, but executed with so much sleaze, you just come away wondering why a fine actor like Nawazuddin Siddiqui needs to stoop so low.</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays the gun for hire who has never missed a target. He is shown to be cocky and you see him stare lecherously at a woman cobbler’s cleavage, who has a mouth on her: ‘The fixing of your shoe costs five rupees’, she says, ‘but twenty rupees are for staring at my chest’. So promptly he comes back and gives her twenty, and says, ‘I’m going to stare at you again.’ </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>So he’s cocky and lusty and the smart-mouthed sweaty village belle likes it. But the audience is still wondering why we watched a politician whose wife promptly removes all her clothes and gets massaged by a male masseuse while her husband watches. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Well, there are many such inexplicable scenes of sexual violence and lust which do nothing to add value to the story, and you wonder where the sweaty sleaze is going. To more sleaze, obviously. Babu and Banke watch Babu’s girl dance sexily on getting drunk. Banke tells Babu, your girl has so much salt, she might taste delicious. There’s also Banke’s girl whose raison d’etre is to be as lowbrow as she can be. Her clothes and her ‘item song’ dancing are so disgusting you put away your popcorn or you might puke a bit. You also wonder why Banke is shown in his underwear most of the time. It’s not like he is a Calvin Klein model. In fact, the kisses between Banke and Babu’s girl (yes, it happens!) are so terrible, you might wish you had taken a barf bag along.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The only silver lining to this dark disgusting pile of drivel is a cop who has fathered many sons, played by Bhagwan Tiwari. Brilliantly done!</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Of course there are deaths because the two main characters are hitmen. But you don’t know, or care who died. And they all do. Oops! But you shouldn’t care about knowing what happens in the film. A bigger mystery is why an actor of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s calibre should fall for the old ‘you will carry the film on your shoulders’ trap…</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)</i></span></div><br></div>


Review: ‘SNIFF!!!’

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><span><span><b><br></b></span></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><span><b>Smells Dank</b></span></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>1.5 stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Sunny Gill is a ten year old who does not have a sense of smell. By an accident in a old lab at school, two chemicals mix magically and he sneezes out an enormous ball of snot which clears his nose. So much so that now he can sniff out all kinds of things, from what kids had for dinner to finding stolen cars. Alas, the execution is so awful, you’d best be advised to turn up your nose at the film.</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The film starts with what earns it’s one whole star: a fabulous montage of food preparation and bottling of Indian Pickles, Punjabi granny making Aloo Parathas… As the butter melts on the stuffed parathas, you begin to feel hungry and the popcorn in your hand ceases to offer you any comfort. Brilliant work by the cameraperson.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The little boy Sunny Gill (Khushmeet Gill in real life) comes from the family that makes pickles and this great food we see in the first few minutes of the film. But his granny and dad and sister are unhappy because Sunny does not know the joys of smell. He earns the half star for making so much effort.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>If the film is for kids, then parents would not want to show grown ups slap each other. The grown ups show no respect for the old watchman of the building who is shown to be sleeping on the job. The teachers are shown to be caricatures and one teacher even steals from another. Strange role models to present to kids, isn’t it? And showing car thieves who tie up Sunny while they drink and sleep it off is good? Should a child know why and how his sister’s mouth smells like her boyfriend? Why is it good to show grown ups at a meeting not ready to do anything, who jump at the chance of eating free food?</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>This could have been a very sweet Enid Blyton style who-dun-it with kids in the hood figuring out who stole the car. The children rigging up a cctv system with old phone cameras is a great idea, but not believable. And finally, Sunny does not sniff out the culprit, he watches the culprit ready to steal another car on the cctv system… </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The film wants to be the Ukrainian television show Sniffer, where a detective solves cases because of his keen sense of smell, but fails. You come away remembering the visual of young Sunny Gill sneezing out a gigantic ball of snot. Puts you off. Not funny at all. </span></div><br><br><br><span><i>(This review appears on nowrunning dot com)</i></span></div>


Review: SHREELANCER

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><br></div><div dir="ltr"><span>Like Looking Into A Mirror</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>3 wandering stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Mini Review:</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>In the first five minutes if you don’t identify with Shree, then you have never freelanced, or know anyone who has, and then you have not lived. This movie was such a deja-vu, watching it was a personal experience! Clients who won’t pay, will pay in bits and pieces drive Shree to accept a wedding invite. The events that follow keep you involved with what happens to the lad. Shree may not look like Leo DiCaprio, but you like him and want him to win against this bad world. </b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>‘I will have to go to the ATM, take some money now. Will pay later. ’</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>‘You forgot to put the phone number, client won’t pay, so we won’t pay you.’</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>If you have worked as a freelance person, then you would have heard these and many more excuses for not getting paid.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>If you have ever worked, or attempted to work out of a coffee shop or shared work space, you would be grinning at Shree’s experience on the screen. People talking loudly, kids being allowed to run amok in the coffee shop, rude coffee shop attendants, and more. You’ve seen it all, and it is fun to watch it happen on screen to a chap who seems like such an everyman, you take an instant liking to him.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>For someone like me, who has freelanced once upon a time, it was deja-vu. I nodded away in approval while watching Shree juggle calls from his father and clients and ad agency executives who won’t pay on time but want more work done… </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Fed up of being treated as if working from a noisy coffee shop was some kind of freedom, Shree accepts a wedding invite to Punjab. His friend hands him over to his friends and goes off on a honeymoon. Shree is promised freelance work by the ‘friends’ and he goes to Manali!</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Of course there’s alcohol and weed and he finds himself in the back of a truck further North.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>His adventure makes you realise how quickly life can turn into an avalanche. But Shree in his funny pants (cheered silently by the audience) manages to survive. What I most loved was Shree’s ability to look at life through his camera lens and the fabulously written captions. That alone earns this film a standing ovation. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The film is raw, but the music makes up for any moments that make you think, let’s get a move on! The tying up of a strained relationship with his father is very nicely done. But the house looks too cramped to end up being what it becomes. Small niggly bits to a movie that put a smile on my face and kept it there.</span></div><b><br></b><br><b><br></b><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>P.S. Shree’s experience of waking up in a strange place reminded me of having tried home brewed alcohol in Uttarakhand once upon a time. We were robbed and woke up on a porch of some kind shepherd (covered with sheep blankets (ugh!). Cured me of alcohol for the longest time!</i></span></div><br></div>


Review: SHREELANCER

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><br></div><div dir="ltr"><span>Like Looking Into A Mirror</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>3 wandering stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Mini Review:</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>In the first five minutes if you don’t identify with Shree, then you have never freelanced, or know anyone who has, and then you have not lived. This movie was such a deja-vu, watching it was a personal experience! Clients who won’t pay, will pay in bits and pieces drive Shree to accept a wedding invite. The events that follow keep you involved with what happens to the lad. Shree may not look like Leo DiCaprio, but you like him and want him to win against this bad world. </b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>‘I will have to go to the ATM, take some money now. Will pay later. ’</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>‘You forgot to put the phone number, client won’t pay, so we won’t pay you.’</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>If you have worked as a freelance person, then you would have heard these and many more excuses for not getting paid.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>If you have ever worked, or attempted to work out of a coffee shop or shared work space, you would be grinning at Shree’s experience on the screen. People talking loudly, kids being allowed to run amok in the coffee shop, rude coffee shop attendants, and more. You’ve seen it all, and it is fun to watch it happen on screen to a chap who seems like such an everyman, you take an instant liking to him.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>For someone like me, who has freelanced once upon a time, it was deja-vu. I nodded away in approval while watching Shree juggle calls from his father and clients and ad agency executives who won’t pay on time but want more work done… </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Fed up of being treated as if working from a noisy coffee shop was some kind of freedom, Shree accepts a wedding invite to Punjab. His friend hands him over to his friends and goes off on a honeymoon. Shree is promised freelance work by the ‘friends’ and he goes to Manali!</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Of course there’s alcohol and weed and he finds himself in the back of a truck further North.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>His adventure makes you realise how quickly life can turn into an avalanche. But Shree in his funny pants (cheered silently by the audience) manages to survive. What I most loved was Shree’s ability to look at life through his camera lens and the fabulously written captions. That alone earns this film a standing ovation. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The film is raw, but the music makes up for any moments that make you think, let’s get a move on! The tying up of a strained relationship with his father is very nicely done. But the house looks too cramped to end up being what it becomes. Small niggly bits to a movie that put a smile on my face and kept it there.</span></div><b><br></b><br><b><br></b><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>P.S. Shree’s experience of waking up in a strange place reminded me of having tried home brewed alcohol in Uttarakhand once upon a time. We were robbed and woke up on a porch of some kind shepherd (covered with sheep blankets (ugh!). Cured me of alcohol for the longest time!</i></span></div><br></div>


Review: BAREILLY KI BARFI

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><br></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Ji Hero Heroine Ko Chhodo, Baki Sab Super Duper A-1! </b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>2.5 stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>In a small town called Bareilly lives Bitti, a girl who can break dance, is outspoken and someone who smokes. Things which make her ineligible for marriage. After reading a novel written by a local lad, where she’s been described to a T, Bitti pursues the author with a view to marry him. The author’s friend is made to pretend to be the author. Comedy ensues when the friend seems to win the girl!</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>The director catches the small town flavour wonderfully by first casting Pankaj Tripathi as the father of the heroine and Seema Bhargava as the mother. Pankaj Tripathi’s presence in any film today is a guarantee of success. He just has to shake his head and he speaks volumes. Now Pankaj Tripathi is the owner of a Mithai (Indian sweets) shop, and his wife (Seema Bhargava whom we still fondly know as Badki from the first TV soap Hum Log) have a daughter Bitti (Kriti Sanon) who loves to break dance, smokes and is quick tongued. Three qualities which make her rather ineligible for marriage in a small town. Her parents love her but understand that she is not going to take a dumb question like ‘Are you a virgin?’ from a prospective groom.   </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>After shedding tears at the dwindling possibility of marriage, Bitti decides to run away from home. At the railway station, while waiting for the train she buys a book called Bareilly Ki Barfi written by a certain Pritam Vidrohi, and is shocked to find the author has described the heroine in the book as if he were describing her. Cancelling her plans to run away, she returns to seek out the man who did not judge her, but appreciates her wild ways, at least in the book.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Now the book has been written by Chirag Dubey (Ayushman Khurana in a yet another sad sack role) who works in his father’s printing press. The book is written for a girl who was married off to a rich lad. But Chirag realises he cannot use his own name as the author because everyone would know who the girl is. So he and his friend Munna (brilliant actor!) bully their stammering, shy friend Pritam Vidrohi into posing as a the author. Bitti seeks out Chirag to find out who the brilliant author of the book is. Chirag promptly falls in love with Bitti, but is unable to reveal the truth. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>He promises to introduce Pritam to Bitti. Munna and Pritam bully Pritam again. But this time, the bullying backfires. Bitti seems to be falling in love with Pritam Vidrohi! Kriti Sanon is good, but she looks too urban to fit into a role of a small town firecracker. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>That Rajkummar Rao is talented, you have seen. But here, he is amazing as Pritam Vidrohi who turns into a macho monster from the dithering shy lad the Chirag and Munna have grown up with. Every time he appears in the frame, he will make you wonder what he’s going to do next. Is he going to whimper and be shy, or is he going to be the tough guy with attitude?</span></div><br><div dir="ltr"><span>The problem with this film, is that the hero fails to endear us to him. We have no logical reason to want to root for him. And that makes the second half feel longer than it is. In fact, Chirag is so nasty, you wish Pritam Vidrohi would get the girl instead. But it’s a Hindi film after all, and the hero must ride away into the sunset with the girl…</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)  </i></span><span>  </span></div></div>


Review: VICEROY’S HOUSE

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><br></div><div dir="ltr"><span><span><b>Love In The Time Of Partition</b></span></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>4 stars</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Director Gurinder Chaddha shares her story of the partition setting it in the heart of politics: inside the house of the last Viceroy of India. It is a touching tale of one of the greatest human tragedies, a shameful part of our history, told in a very personal way. The film is beautifully shot, well acted and brilliantly directed. A must watch.</b></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>In dividing a country before leaving, what motive did the British have? We’ve studied history and there have been many, many melodramas and jingoistic films made on the subject of the Partition. Critics in the West have complained about how skewed the vision of the director is when it comes to history. But as a storyteller Gurinder Chaddha excels. Her story is personal, and when the end credits roll, and you see how personal, your jaws fall to the floor.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Viceroy’s House is grand, so grand that the outgoing lady of the house does not know how many people serve, ‘Over five hundred?’ she muses. War-rationing has made meat a rare treat and when Edwina and Pamela Mountbatten discover a cloche that has the most delectable chicken prepared specially for the family dog, Gurinder Chaddha offers you one of the most amazing scenes that is at once humorous and at once poignant. </span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>Yes, there’s a love story of a young lad Jeet Kumar (played beautifully by Manish Dayal) and Aalia (the luminescent Huma Qureshi). We know this gentle romance seems to be doomed because of the history unfolding around them, the scene where their fingers touch, is perhaps the finest romantic moments one has seen on the screen. Nothing loud about it. Just romance that takes your breath away.</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>There are many such moments where you feel the director’s deft touch. The quiet friendship between Duleep Singh and Jeet Kumar, when Guptaji passes his handkerchief to the aide-de-camp after he has been spat upon, every time Jeet Kumar wants to speak of his love for Aalia to the brilliant Om Puri who plays her blind father, how Edwina (the marvelous Gillian Anderson, so uncannily real you are taken aback) looks at Nehru when he’s putting his best argument forward at the party…</span></div><b><br></b><div dir="ltr"><span>You are meant to be horrified at the viciousness that bubbles up to the surface at the slightest of provocation. You understand why some people would dream the dream that Jinnah (played with conviction by Denzil Smith) promised them. You will be angry with Mohsin who cannot give up his religious identity. Your heart will break at the division of books from the library and cutlery from the Viceroy’s kitchen after the announcement of partition. Your heart will break when you realise that the head chef chooses to be in India and the sous chef chooses Pakistan. Your heart will rise up to your throat when you see Om Puri finally realising that Jeet Kumar really loves his daughter…</span></div><br><div dir="ltr"><span>Yes, the end is a tad melodramatic, what with the microphone and all, but despite everything, when the black and white photographs accompany the end credits, you will realise how this film is a personal account of that time, and not a record of history. You come away with a sense of belonging. And also a question: If another Partition were to divide the nation today, would the separation be civil or just as bloody and horrendous?</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)</i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div></div>


VIP 2: LALKAAR

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><b><br></b></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b><br></b></span><span><b>Dhanush Charms, Kajol Doesn't. </b></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>2 stars</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Dhanush takes the success of his Tamil hit ‘VIP’ and sets the sequel in Bombay. He is Raghuvaran, the engineer who has saved the SRA project and has loyal engineer fans, working honestly at Anitha Constructions. Kajol makes a comeback to cinema as Vasundhara, a builder/architect tycoon who hates Raghuvaran’s guts for refusing a job with her. She makes sure his company loses all contracts. But Raghuvaran is VIP! He will not back down. He makes her see the wrongs she is about to do, and wins her over!</b></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>The movie has been shot in Tamil and dubbed in Hindi, and even though that makes the film a tad stilted, you will still come away charmed by Dhanush. He can spout one liners as well as the Super Star Rajini (he’s getting there, he’s getting there!) and is good at comedy too. The comedy that involves drunk Dhanush, angry wife is meant for mass appeal. And the dances on the street (which is a must in any South movie) show that the audience is meant to dance in the aisles. But does the film succeed in telling a story, and well?</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>Dhanush as Raghuvaran is a charmer. He makes you smile when he’s pretending to be drunk, and makes you want to hug him when he talks to his mother (Saranya Ponvannan)  in times of trouble. You groan at the characterization of his angry wife (Amala Paul) and she doesn’t come across as an educated person, let alone a dentist.</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>What was alarming to watch is Kajol. As a rude, rich head of an architectural firm, Kajol plays Vasundhara who begins to hate Raghuvaran who refuses a job with her saying, ‘Sher ki dum banne se achha hai main billi ka sar ban ke rahoon’ (‘I’d rather be the head of a cat than the tail of a tiger’). Why is her character so rude? There is no explanation. And Kajol looks terrible as she walks almost always in slow motion, and the meanness of her character makes her look rather ghastly. She looks more plastic than human. Nothing, nothing explains why she wears the clothes she wears, and the rather alarming high heels (which architect in their right mind will ever wear such high heels at a construction site?) or why she does not move a single facial muscle while speaking. It makes for an alarming sight.</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>Thankfully Dhanush makes up for this ghastly vision by the decency of his character. It is endearing to see how he loves his moped and cares for the army of engineers he works with. He is such a good guy, you understand why his boss Balaji (Balaji Mohan) brings his life savings to help him start a company called VIP Constructions. Even if you have not seen the original film, the sequel stands on its own. The street dance items are fun watch but the translation of dialog: like when the policemen say, ‘These are engineers, how can we evict them?’, you wonder what do the policemen mean?</span></div><br><div dir="ltr"><span>The last twenty minutes where Dhanush manages to persuade Kajol that the Amusement Park project will be dangerous and the rains, lights going off, both drinking wine, Dhanush’s wife making dosa for Kajol, all seem to be too over the top (even as a South film). You know that only a montage will push the film towards its rightful end.</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i>(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)</i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><i><br></i></span></div></div>


Review: TOILET EK PREM KATHA

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><br></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Akshay Ke Liye Prem. </b></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Lekin Government Propaganda Katha Stinks</b></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><span>2 stars</span><br><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Mini Review:</i></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Jaya and Keshav fall in love. And when the bride comes home she discovers that she has to go with the ‘lota paltan’ to crap in the farms before the sun rises. There is no toilet in the house, because tradition dictates you defecate out in the open. Bride rebels, leaves home. The groom is humiliated, but understands and moves mountains of paperwork and government red tape to get public toilets installed in the village.</b></span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span><i>Main Review:</i></span><span> </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Based On A True Story. But Why Bollywood?</b></span><span> </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>An out and out propaganda film, this Bollywood offering attempts to tackle a serious issue of hygiene and open defecation by taking a real life story and dramatising it. A bride actually left her marital home because she discovered they did not have toilets.</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>One hour into the movie, you begin to wonder how much more romance you are going to see between Keshav (played by a very earnest Akshay Kumar) and Jaya (Bhoomi Pednekar, very empathetic and beautiful). Akshay Kumar manages to earn an 'awwww!' from the audience because his Keshav is just such a nice guy. His moustache droops when he's sad, and supports his grin when he's happy. That's an achievement. His romance with the liquid eyed Bhoomi Pednekar is</span><span> sweet. </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>And we would not mind the happy couple if it weren't for the ever present third wheel: Keshav’s younger brother played by Divyendu Sharma, who is so over the top villager, so grating on the senses (not only because he’s shown to be watching ‘Balam Pichkari’ on the phone all the time) that villagers should cover him up with a blanket and throw him in the middle of a herd of stampeding cows for saying ‘Mallika Bhabhi’ to the cow and ‘milk’ in the same sentence again and again.</span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b><br></b></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>The Government's Problem Is Very Real</b></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>It’s a reality that village women are not safe any more. They get attacked by wild animals and are bitten by snakes and scorpions when they defecate in the open. Women and young girls have been raped and then hung to die when they have stepped out into the woods to relieve themselves by men. Young men take pictures with their phones of women defecating, their heads covered, but arses visible to everyone. But is this film an answer? </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>The government both at the center and at the state level is trying and failing because, the film says, 'woh logon ki soch nahi badal sake'. The hero tries everything for his new bride. He even takes her on the motorbike to the train, which stops for seven minutes and she can finish her business. But it doesn’t answer the question: what do you do when you have to go during the day? </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><b>Crammed Second Half</b></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>It is in the second half of the film where the story actually takes off. Jaya forces his hand. She knows, this ‘jugaad’ of going to the train every day will not work. She leaves him. The filmmakers then speed up the film because they have to make the story work. The hero needs to believe that hygiene and safety are important and have a change of heart, then the father of the hero (played without a fault by Sudhir Pandey) needs to change, the villagers need to understand. The hero goes to the municipal authorities who need to change their attitude about providing toilets to the villages. The hero’s father needs to see why they need a toilet installed at home, the old granny needs to see the same, the family of the heroine need to show support to her cause, her mother needs to change her mindset… </span></div><div dir="ltr"><span><br></span></div><div dir="ltr"><span>So many things are crammed into the second half of the film you just watch it. Untouched. You realise that you have watched all this without even cringing at papa's pee on beta's cheek. You have no empathy when the village women come marching into courts demanding ‘saamohik divorce’ (mass divorce) from their husbands if they don’t get toilets installed. It's just not believable.</span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>The need of the hour is providing public toilets and teaching the masses to use these toilets instead of defecating and polluting rivers and ponds. But is this film any more than the filmmakers genuflecting to the government? Paying deep obeisance to the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India campaign)? That sort of stinks, methinks. </span></div><b><br></b><br><div dir="ltr"><span>   </span></div><br></div>

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