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Review: SUPER 30

Gamchhe Ke Peeche Kya Hai…

Two stars

Mini Review:

A story about a free school for the poorest of the poor IIT aspirants run by a maverick mathematician should have been a hugely inspiring film. It starts out to be fabulous, introducing us to a bright mind and his yearning to become someone. The film crash lands and how! You hate everything about it, especially the brownface that Hrithik applies on his face to look like a small town lad. 

Main Review: 

Bihar Does NOT Mean Everyone And His Uncle Sports A Gamchha

I’ve lived in Patna, and what they showed in the film is not Mithapur (where the real Super30 school is located), neither is it Patna. It’s an urban idea of poor small town and their ‘sad’ lives where mother is forever making rotis and dad has a rickety bicycle and spouts homilies. Fuck the facts. They even claim the original teacher Anand Kumar has helped with the script. Did he forget to tell the filmmakers that he is a civil servant? An IFS (Indian Forestry Service) officer? Obviously it was easier to show dire poverty to make it more filmi, more melodramatic.

Also because they’re Bollywood’s idea of poor, they will all be:
1. Brown and dirty all the time (gag!),
2. Won’t have food but have big hearts (barf!) and
3. It will rain over their proverbial parade/adding to their woes all through the movie (puke!)

But Why Ruin Hrithik Roshan For Fans

I understand why everyone and their uncle wants to be politically correct and show ‘desh ka vikaas’ and all that, but why turn a gorgeous leading man who can out dance any hero that claims to know how to dance and give him a role that need him to downplay his assets? And NEVER break into a dance? Kya faaltugiri hai!

No one can deny that Hrithik Roshan is a good looking man. Then why does he have to tone it down by liberally applying the bronzer to look like he is a very poor, small town lad? Can someone tell filmmakers that ‘brownface’ might be insulting?

And what’s with the eternal hangover with the ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ mentally challenged act? That run, that confused look when he’s concentrating on the math is just wrong when repeated so many times…I did puke inside though when they made him look at his dad – awed by the homilies – like he was a ten year old instead of someone who had solved the most unsolvable math problem!

A Teacher To The Underdogs… Bollywood Ruins That Trope Too!

Hrithik still works in the first half of the film where plays the role of Anand Kumar, a math genius, doing the Good Will Hunting write on the blackboard thing. He hits sublime moments too, but the dirty gamchha gets in the way…

Alas he doesn’t have Michelle Pfeiffer of Dangerous Minds or Vind Khanna of Imtihaan to support him or inspire him he is going to be that prof himself…

But if Hrithik insists on being Koi Mil Gaya, it falls on the character actors to who win your heart.
His dad Eeshwar, played by Virendra Saxena is rather sweet and inspiring postman.

His brother Pranav played by Nandish Sandhu (great casting, looks like Hrithik’s brother in real life) is a great support for his school.

Pankaj Tripathi is flawless as the local politician who has his paws deep in the dirt of the business of education.

Even Hrithik’s dialog coach for the film Manish Kumar Singh has a one minute scene as a policeman who is unable to help protect the brothers against the threat to their lives.

Vijay Verma whom you saw in Gully Boy shines in this film as well as the award winning student of the Super 30 program reminiscing about Anand Kumar, a genius who could not make it to Cambridge because of poverty. 

The best act of course is by the villain. Aditya Srivastava plays Lallan Singh who runs a successful coaching class which becomes even more successful when Anand Kumar begins to teach there. When Anand realises that the coaching classes are only for the very rich, and that he is contributing to the scam by teaching there, he gives it all up and decides that he will coach 30 poor but bright kids for free. 

So far so good. You even hope that you will see something like Stand And Deliver where students from the wrong side of the tracks learn high math by teacher Edward James Olmos… But no! The filmmaker chooses what he thinks is going to work commercially and you facepalm when you see the students turn the film into a hospital version of Home Alone with many stupid baddies out to assassinate the teacher as well as the students. That half an hour spent on using math to defeat men with guns is perhaps the worst one has seen. It squanders all the goodwill Hrithik and the kids earned in the first half of the film. Of course all 30 students make it to IIT. But you are so disappointed, you want to drown someone in a vat of bronzer… 

(Why haven’t I mentioned the romance angle? Because it was dumb to show a heroine who only dances and then gets married off to an IAS officer. That made me chew the handle of my Gucci bag to bits. That Mrunal Thakur was sweet in the role fails to count)

P.S. Biharis will be grateful that they didn’t show the chhath puja to make the film ‘look and feel’ authentic!

(a sanitised version of the review appears on nowrunning dot com)

Review: MALAAL

Dekhne Walon Ka Bura Haal!
1.5 stars
Mini Review

Meezaan and Sharmin Segal offer the same ole love story, a mish-mash of every love story since Bollywood began making romances. The film is executed so poorly, you wonder why it is under the Bhansali banner. It’s plain excruciating to watch predictable romance movie tropes go on and on for 136 minutes.

Main Review:

Who would’ve thunk, Bollywood would fail at romance?
A remake of Selvaraghavan’s Tamil film ‘7G Rainbow Colony’, Malaal attempts to make magic with two newcomers Meezaan (Javed Jafferi’s son) and Sharmin Segal (Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s niece, not related to Steven), but falls flat on its unoriginal nose. It’s sad because the two are quite promising, the girl more so than the boy who comes across as a poor man’s Ranbir Kapoor. The girl is rather attractive, but has limited acting chops.

And the story does not help. Not at all. He’s Shiva, the no good lad from a chawl (housing project like rooms connected with a common balcony, for common folk, unique to Mumbai), where his dad comes home to beat his mom who makes chaklis (Marathi savoury snack). Sharmin plays Aastha, who has just moved in next door with her parents – dad (two heart attacks, so you know he’s going to be villain) and mom (attempts to play martyr) – because her dad was once rich but has lost all the money at the stock market. By the way, this film is set in 1998 and tries hard to play the communal card (he’s Marathi, a local, and she is a North Indian, a Tripathi) but it peters out rather early in the film because lack of courage to make something courageous as love between different communities. 

And that’s just the beginning. Shiva has a temper, but he won’t turn into Sanjay Dutt of Vaastav. She’s all Simran of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge but doesn’t have the sass that Kajol’s character had in the film. Neither are her parents Amrish Puri and Farida Jalal. There are some songs that happen and the dance moves (Javed Jafferi’s son has an additional burden of dancing as good or better than dad) are tired. Not the lad’s fault. You just wish his hair wasn’t so carefully casual.
IRL, Stay away from such gals!
Aastha is scary when she does the very tiresome girlfriend thing: If I take one puff of that cigarette you will stop smoking, And if I drink one peg of whatever you are drinking, then you will stop drinking… You groan! Is she his girl or his mom?! Lads should swipe her left if any girl should  say something this bizarre!

The weirdness does not stop there. ‘Walk behind me or ahead of me because no one should know we are together’, she says, and he obeys. She’s basically Taliban. He counts the number of steps she walks every day. So he’s Fitbit. She plays more paper messages from one balcony to another, and when he asks her if she loves him, she tears the paper and throws it down the balcony. And after a bit when she’s sitting on the rocks by the sea (couples go to canoodle there) she produces an account opening form for him to fill. Before you go whaaaa… She has got him a job at a stockbroking firm as an office boy who gives tea to the brokers and carries messages. She is still playing his mom. Especially because she knows he has 12 shirts and 3 tees and some ganjis (undershirts) and one of them ganjis has holes (she knows exact location of the holes). This is how much she loves him. He preens. The audience has hurt itself facepalming. She sounds more like his laundry lady than lover. 

Neverending groanfest…

A Sanjay Leela Bhansali production usually boasts of fabulous sets, This film went super low budget with location that look tacky. Even the birds in the cage look fake. There is not a single original thought in the script. Why bother to make a film that is careless? Why don’t star kids study hard at school and become something else rather than star in these pointless movies?
Back to the groanfest. Aastha tells her mom that she wants to be with Shiva because she would soon be married to Aditya (please don’t ask who this sleazy Mercedes driving foreign returned creep is, but he’s the Parmeet Sethi from Dilwale Dulahniya without the charm). Mom is ineffective and let’s her go. They make out (thankfully they don’t show us sloppy kisses) but they wake up fully clothed. When walking home from friend’s apartment, she crosses the street without looking and yesssss! Relief! She dies, and he’s injured. She has been telling him that he needs to make something of his life… Alas the movie does not end there. While you have finished your neighbor’s popcorn out of sheer boredom because he has fallen asleep, Shiva has grayed and predictably heads Aastha Wealth Management, and is still talking to the dead Aastha… 

You discover that you have aged too. You reflect at the paucity of ideas in the film industry today and wonder why the once hugely popular romance genre is not even pulling 20 couples to the first day first show.

(this review sans rant about star kids, appears on nowrunning.com)


Akal Ke Saath Anyay!

1 star

Mini Review:

Justice Tyagi retires from Ranchi High Court and proceeds to take the law into his own hands to punish the men who went free because their crimes weren’t proven. This is no whodunit, not even why-he-dun-it. It’s a straightforward story laughably told. The usually reliable character actors are made to ham so much they seem to be competing for the Razzies. 

Main Review:

Anupam Kher (Tyagi) retires as a High Court judge who gets slapped or cursed by victims of the justice system. His daughter is about to get married and we see the whole family go shopping for her wedding saree. None of the actors are known and are treated like they don’t matter. Judge saab though walks out of the saree shop and walks next door to what looks like a hardware garage and casually orders five rolls of barbed wire. 

He is shown taking a morning walk and chatting with Inspector Satya Prakash Sharma (Kumud Mishra). Then at the daughter’s wedding a doctor couple vanish. Inspector Sharma comes to Tyagi’s home to ask if he knows anything. Tyagi denies it, but helps with the name of videographer at the wedding. While Sharma and the son (a product of the hysterical school of acting, hereafter referred to as HSA) watch the wedding videos for clues, Tyagi casually walks into what looks like a garage next to his house where the doctor couple are tied by barbed wire. Confess on camera that you admitted Abdul (HSA graduate) into the ICU to get more money. Confess that you killed him! 

Can’t get the visual of the sweaty item girl in red outta me head! And the cringeworthy rhymes: Tu bada fancy hai, Groove bada dancy hai’! Ugh! But back to poverty…

Abdul’s mother (played by Zarina Wahab) looks too poor to afford anything, let alone hospital money. And before you groan at seeing another Muslim person on screen praying in hospital corridors, crying, ‘Allah, Rehem Kar!’ (God, save us!), you want to say, ‘Hey! You don’t puncture the saline bottle directly to inject something into a person!’  

We get to know that Abdul was blaming someone call Afzal for the bomb that injured him. Afzal was goon to a politician (Zakir Hussain) who sports a moustache first and then doesn’t… Afzal is also connected by crime to a hotelier (Rakesh Sharma) who has ordered an mms made of a honeymooning couple and the CD was distributed everywhere (wait, what?!). The shame kills the young woman Shagufta and ruins her newly married husband Shamim’s life. 

Of course Justice Tyagi who does nothing to hide himself from his kidnapped men and women gets confessions. But there’s a Haryanvi cop (Esha Gupta, who channeled her inner Salman Khan rather decently) Laxmi Rathi who reads files upon files and discovers the culprits behind kidnappings. It is Tyagi and Sharma! Wow! But we already knew that and we lived through two item songs too that were crammed in. But Esha realises that these criminals will eventually still be let off, so she kills them all. That’s what you feel like doing to the filmmakers when you come back home.

(this review appears on nowrunning dot com) 


2 stars

Mini Review:

A shot by shot remake in Hindi of the Telugu hit film Arjun Reddy, this film stays true to the tale of an obsessed lover. Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani are lovers in medical school but when she’s forced to marry someone else, the brilliant doctor goes into a downwards spiral of alcohol and drugs. The misogyny is very difficult to swallow for 174 minutes. The acting and the relationships between the characters make this film a decent watch, even though you slap people in your head several times.

Main Review:

SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! Right across their faces!

Never could understand why it is okay to endorse misogyny if the lad is good looking and brilliant and bad if he is/looks villainous. I have never slapped people in real life, but did so several times to everyone in the movie and even those who made such a toxic film.

One Tight Slap for thinking that it’s okay to REMAKE Southern Misogyny as Northern Misogyny
If you have seen Arjun Reddy, you will naturally compare the film with this remake. Vijay Devarakonda makes for a super convincing character: short tempered and violent and yet brilliant at his work. Shahid Kapoor is a wonderful actor too, and the casting is not at fault. It’s just that in this case, he just doesn’t look like someone would throw down a baseball bat and hit someone with his bare fists. Promoting violence like this is just plain awful because there seem to be no consequences.

Besides, Bollywood’s obsession with neat beards just does not sit well with a character who just flings himself down a spiral of sex, drugs and alcohol. That’s why Devarakonda’s Arjun Reddy was alarming and Shahid’s Kabir Singh is not as demented.

But if you have not watched Arjun Reddy on Amazon Prime, then you’re coming into this film cold. Kabir Singh is a wild card and yet the best student at a medical school. He loses his temper on the football field and gets suspended for beating up the members of the opposite team. He’s unrepentant and offers to transfer to another med school. As he waits for the Dean to sign the papers, he spots a gorgeous girl, Preeti Sikka, among the fresh batch of students and tears up transfer papers.

Slap! The Girl Is ‘Rank Holder’ But Spineless! Slap! For Everyone who thinks they can Brand Women as ‘Mine’

What happens next is so cringe inducing you will either walk out of the theater in disgust or take it like a masochist. Kabir proclaims that the girl is his. And no one dare say anything, including the girl. She has no choice. He tells her whom she should befriend and how she should study. He just drags her out of class and teaches lessons to her. She just accepts this like some lamb to slaughter. And you are supposed to find this behavior tolerable because he lets her stay in class when it is time to learn about the anatomy of Upper Thorax. Also because he won’t let anyone even look at her, beats up the lad who touches her. The fact that he kisses her against her will is considered as ‘something cool’ rather than repugnant. The reaction of his best friends is worse! They behave as if Preeti is privileged to have been ‘chosen’ by Kabir. Imagine a filmy villain like Prem Chopra or Ranjeet doing that… Why is that not okay, and this awful behaviour by Kabir ‘cute’?

You cannot stop rolling your eyes, when Preeti falls in love with Kabir and moves into the boys hostel. They’re physical and the friends seem to encourage this ‘Kabir rules!’ behavior. She’s also shown to be obsessing with him, showing up unannounced at his new med school where he’s studying to be a surgeon.

Slap To Everyone Around Kabir. No One Calls Him Out!

Thankfully they insert ‘years pass’ into the film and both are back in Bombay. He shows up at her doorstep, kisses her and her dad naturally throws him out because Indian culture. Of course he overdoses on morphine in anger and she’s married off. Now he’s angrier and drunker and tries to forget Preeti by doing drugs. Of course the Indian Censors are very strict with Hindi films and they don’t show Kabir do any kind of drugs as they let Arjun Reddy do. So the whole I’m drunk because she’s on my mind does not work because he’s also supposed to be a brilliant surgeon. How does one do mind bending drugs and still operate? Why are the nurses plying him with alcohol? Kabir tries to forget Preeti by trying to have an affair with a movie star and almost rapes another woman (at knife point) but fails… And even if you like Shahid Kapoor, the story gets too long winded. The end cannot come sooner. And if there’s a handy wall nearby, the explanation of the slap-one another love will make you want to crash your head on the wall. And then when you hear Kabir’s friend say, ‘Preeti’s pregnant, so she probably liked being with her husband…’ makes you want to slap the next person who says that this movie is great.

Arjan Bajwa is a good older brother to Kabir. His best friend/ sidekick has the best lines and makes for great person to have in your life. His grandma played by Kamini Kaushal is sweet too (Actor Kanchana plays the granny in Arjun Reddy and is leagues ahead!). With so many good people around him, it’s a miracle no one tells Kabir off, or at least slap him. At least once?

Again Vijay Devarankonda in and as Arjun Reddy is not only alarming when drunk and drugged and angry but also brilliant when he shows his softer, vulnerable side when he’s around Preeti. The music in the Telugu version is more mellifluous in comparison. Kabir Singh is not a good guy, and neither is the misogyny. But there’s something about poisonous love that draws you to such stories… And do remember to slap yourself for spending hard earned money on such films.
(this review sans slaps appears on nowrunning dot com)


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