Bajirao Mastani – A visual treat

Like all Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies, Bajirao Mastani is a feast for the eyes. While Sawariya was a blue toned movie by SLB, Bajirao Mastani is an earthy toned movie like Bajirao Peshwa’s personality who was a great Maratha Warrior and a true son of the soil. SLB has beautifully picturised the emotional struggles of Kashibai, Bajirao and his beloved Mastani. You can feel the passion between the lead pair and the helplessness of Kashibai at her heart being broken and her ego being crushed like any woman whose husband is in love with another woman.

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While most of Bhansali’s previous films have been based on fiction and classic literature, this is his first attempt at a historical and he delivers by depicting the beauty and grandeur of the 18th Century Maratha rulers. Bajirao, who is a Brahmin Peshwa, falls in love with a half muslim dancer-warrior, Mastani and as they say, the rest is history. There are differences of religion, status and the fact that Bajirao is already married to the Innocent but brave Kashibai.

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Deepika fits the bill perfectly, be it on the battlefront, in her armour or in the Sheesh Mahal with her glittery, flowy, layered Anarkalis. Speaking of Anarkali, The song Deewani Mastani is a beautiful odé to the immortal ‘Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya ‘. Trust Bhansali to picturise this magnum opus. He does the one thing he is best at and manages to mesmerise us everytime with the ethereal Cinematography and Art, present in all his movies. The only thing I found a little off place, was the casting of Ranveer Singh. He is a good actor but not graceful enough to make this character completely believable. His childish energy as an amateur in his field conflicts with the character that Bajirao Peshwa could have been.

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Tanvi Azmi’s character as Bajirao’s mother is convincing but very brief for such a fine actress. But we are not complaining as it is not her story. Priyanka Chopra fits in more in ‘Pinga’ than Deepika does, but that is fine too,  as Kashibai is a true blood Maratha, whileas Mastani is not. Priyanka is convincing in her depiction of the helpless wife Kashibai, which is a character quite contrary to her real life values.

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The movie drags in places and the war scenes are brief too,but it emerges a winner, all thanks to it grandeur and an opera like quality that most of Bhansali’s movies have.

You can watch it this weekend and lose yourself in a bygone era for a few hours.

My Rating: 3.5 /5

Dilwale – DDLJ couple does not a good film make.

Making movies is not like making a khichdi. When you make a khichdi, you put in all the ingredients in a pan and let it simmer till its done and the khichdi tastes the same eveytime. But in a movie, you need creative adjustments and fine tuning of all the ingredients to make it delectable. You cannot mix Shahrukh and Kajol from your DDLJ hangover,  add two funny Varuns and another pretty face and expect the movie to be a landmark one. Dilwale never raised my expectations but still didn’t fail to disappoint. 

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‘Kajol-Shahrukh’do not a DDLJ make and it looks like even Kajol is wondering here what she signed up for. Chennai Express was much better than this Rohit Shetty flick. It looks like they have taken the audience for granted and feel that whatever they serve is,  will be lapped up and 100-200-300 crores will be earned in a jiffy. This movie makes one wonder if one should actually spend the time and money to watch this crappy mixture of 'stars' or instead light the money up in a bonfire and be a little warmer this winter.

The sense on dejà vû is not lost with the usual Rohit Shetty routine of burning cars and making them fly. It is getting old now and in his next movie, he should keep cars off the screen or at least keep them on the ground and maybe give them away in charity after the shooting wraps up. Dilwale will bore you and you will wonder why you left the warmth of your bed this morning. Was it for this?

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The song Gerua stands out for it’s visualisation and color palette. But don’t be fooled. The rest of the movie is just the contrast. You don’t take a romantic couple who have been doing the same thing movie after movie and make them do that, add what YOU have been doing movie after movie, and hope that it works somehow.

Thanks to the Shiv Sena ban on this movie, many people may have been spared the horror of watching this narcissistic load of junk in theatres and saved their hard earned money too. The humor is juvenile, the action repetitive, the romance lacklustre and the movie is a sure miss. Rohit Shetty needs to get off his trip and realise that it is the audience that he’s making the movie for, not for his personal viewing. The only ray of hope is Sanjay Mishra, who inspires some laughs occasionally.

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The Indian audience deserves better than an old wine in an old bottle. At least make the bottle new!

Dilwale did have the potential to be something better but I think, you may give this one a miss and stay home this weekend.

My Rating: 2/5

Tamasha – It’s not for everybody

When I went to watch Tamasha, I had already read some comments on twitter about how people were leaving the hall midway through the movie. And there were people leaving the hall when I watched it too. But I guess that these were the same people who make movies like “Happy New Year ” earn crores at the Box office.

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I, for one, liked the movie. It is not a ‘Rockstar’ or a ‘Highway’, but Imtiaz Ali does not disappoint with this one. Ranbir Kapoor could not top his ‘Rockstar’ performances in Tamasha and he looks kind of bored. Even though Ved is a layered character and Ranbir could have made it memorable had he tried a little harder, but he does get through to us in parts. A noteworthy performance comes from Deepika Padukone and although Ranbir must have been paid much much more for this movie than she has been paid, but she definitely deserved to be better paid than Ranbir, considering her stellar performance as Tara who never settles for the ordinary and isn’t afraid to go after what her heart desires.

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The movie starts with a young kid Ved, who is lost in his own world of stories like Ramayana, Helen of Troy and all great love stories like Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahival, Romeo-Juliet. He is lost in his own world and is generally distant from the reality around him. Then Ved grows up and on a holiday in  beautiful locales of Corsica, he meets Tara who is on a vacation too. Sparks fly and they decide not to tell each other who they actually are. They make up names and thus starts their journey of a fun filled companionship while their holiday lasts. They go crazy and their chemistry crackles! They go their own ways, but Tara finds that she still has Ved in her heart.

You can’t help but notice quid pro quo between Ved and Tara. He saves her in a foreign country by helping her with food and money. And she in turn, saves his soul, gives him his life back with selfless and passionate love. She ultimately is his Knight in shining armour. So, in the end, it’s not your same old love story. The princess rescues the prince in this fairy tale.

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They go to their respective mundane lives and get stuck in the daily grind. What happens after that and how Tara helps Ved find himself underneath the ‘aam aadmi’ that circumstances have made him, is a journey in itself. The editing could have been better and that would have brought the movie a little together.

Although Tamasha is good, but Imtiaz Ali definitely has potential for something much better and he must explore his own mind to give us something much better the next time. I recommend watching Tamasha this weekend if you have the appetite for good cinema. I must warn you that it is not the ‘fun’ movie that it appears from its trailor and songs. It definitely is not for everybody!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Fun fact: The holiday in Corsica, where they decide not to meet each other again and even some dialogues in the beginning of Tamasha, are inspired by a portion of Kate Winslet and Cameroon Diaz starred “The Holiday”

Through an Armyman’s Eyes

We often think about the Kashmir issue or any communal riots that happen in this country,  in an objective manner. What happened? why it happened? and to whom did it happen? Recently, I got talking to an Army man on a long train journey and he shared his perspective about things he had to deal with in the 28 years of his service and how HE looked at matters this country has been struggling with since long.

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He was a very decent man, about to retire next year, with a family, including two kids, whose future was all that mattered to him now, after devoting his life to our country’s service. He got into the army, as unlike his brother who is a double M.A. and his sister, who is a govt teacher, he wasn’t interested in studies much. So much that he dropped out after his 10th class and joined the army. His son wants to become a cricketer and is a very good one, but unfortunately he cannot afford to make his dreams come true as we all know how selectors charge a colossal amount in return for even being considered to play Ranji, leave alone the national team.

Coming to his on the job experiences, he was posted in Bombay (now Mumbai) at the time of 1992-93 riots. He remembered how dozens of members of a certain community were holed up in a single chawl and while being burned to death, cried out for help from him, saying “Fauji Sahab, bachao”. How he was unable to save them all but managed to catch hold of some goons who were inciting the riots. He said, even the local police was scared of them as these people were armed with grenades and AK 47s, whileas his weapons weren’t a match for them.  He wasn’t objective in his narration of those times, but he seemed to be emotionally involved too. I could see the fleeting glimpse of a certain pain in his eyes,  that he must have felt when seeing so many men,  women and children being burnt in their own houses and being able to save only some of them. Having gone through all that, he noticed that should such an incident happen in his home town, there isn’t even a single knife that he has at home, with which his family would be able to protect themselves.

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Then he spoke about a place, which being my birthplace and the place from which our family and many others ‘like us’ were driven out of our homes, to be refugees in our own country, is close to my heart. And that place is Kashmir, which used to be heaven on earth and which may still be so for an ignorant few. He had been posted there for 4 years till last year. He said the day he landed back at home from Kashmir, he noticed that his hair had greyed in most parts and he couldn’t read as well anymore. The constant tension that he was in while he was there, had taken its toll on his health and on his opinion of the way our government functions like a groom who’s found to be impotent on his wedding night. They talk and Boy! Do they talk! But the ground reality is that AFSPA is just applicable in name.  Our army cannot even interrogate the paid pawns who pelt stones at them and shower bullets on them. They have to hand them over to the local police,  which releases them the very next day.

A young boy once held by them, confessed that they were paid 500 rs for everytime they had to pelt stones at the army,  by Geelani and his ilk. Our poor Armyman is busy protecting these dimwits, from themselves. He did not know, but I shared with him that these very same people get scholarships to study in other parts of India, and the scholarships come from the Prime Minister’s relief fund. In turn, he tells me that they get free ration from the government too and observes that maybe that’s why these people want to keep this disturbance and terrorism growing. When they will stop creating this nuisance, maybe they will not get so many benefits from the government anymore, as then Kashmir will be like any other state and we all know that free ration and subsidy has been stopped in most of the states now.

When he was in Kashmir, they lived in constant fear of being shot any time, without any provocation. A young girl whose mother was dropping her at the bus stand for school, once came to him and asked him the difference between CRPF and BSF, but her mother pulled her away and told him not to speak with the armymen ever. Would that little girl have reminded him of his daughter at home? It definitely does remind me of Tagore’s Kabuliwala. Only that this Kashmiri girls parents do not like this Kabuliwala.

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This made me think, what is our army fighting for? Why isn’t article 370 abolished, as has been promised to us in many elections,  just to fool us into casting our votes in their favor. Will they or anyone, ever actually try to solve the issue or will they just use the fire in Kashmir to cook their own political biryani? I think we all need answers and more than answers, we need action. We have had enough of this impotence.  We need action, not only is words, but in policies AND more importantly,  their IMPLEMENTATION.  Are you listening Mr. Modi? Save our armymen! Don’t victimise them for your personal gains!

Shandaar

While watching Shandaar,  you wonder if the likes of Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap and Vikas Bahl watch their own movies before bombarding them on the audience. There’s nothing Shandaar about this one. The movie is all over the place and all the punches fall flat and then sink some more.

Dialogue delivery by everyone is oddly timed and though the story is really good, the way it is treated shabbily and molested badly by the screenwriter and the director, makes this a headache to watch. It could have been so much better!

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Shahid has established himself as an excellent actor with his recent Haider and so has Alia with Highway. And the likes of Pankaj Kapur and Sushma Seth need no introduction.  But their talents are wasted as Vikas Bahl seems to have lost his hold on the reins and actors seem lost and ignorant about how to act and react. I was really looking forward to this one but it has turned out to be a huge disappointment.  Sana Kapur has inherited her parents’ acting genes and may have a bright career ahead of her.

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The animated sequences seem unnecessary and the purpose of the movie is torn between making it a fairytale on one hand and a sermon on not treating overweight people in an unfair manner. The director has so many loose ends to tie, like Pankaj Kapur’s past, Shahid Kapur’s past, Alia’s insomnia, their family’s money issues, Sanaa’s weight and he is so overworked with all this burden that he has no idea how to treat any of it in a better way.

This movie had potential but alas, wastes it and let’s the audience down. The music is good though and I raise my rating by one, just for that. You can give this one a miss.

My Rating: 2/5

Singh is Bling

When I was watching this movie, the lady sitting next to me was laughing incessantly.  And hence I saw the representation of the person who makes movies like Happy New Year, Bol Bachchan and now Singh is Bling enter the 100 crore club. It reminded me of a dialogue from another movie, where the female protagonist learns that she is pregnant with a daughter and her prayer is, “God, make my child stupid enough to be happy”. Having said that, a majority of people have this kind of a sense of humor and that’s what benefits mediocre and outright silly movies like Singh is Bling and earns their producers in crores.

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There’s nothing Blinging about this Singh.  Akshay Kumar is a star and has a certain fan following and that is why he can afford to act in a movie with lousy screenwriting, lazy direction by Prabhideva and a bumpy editing. Some jokes and scenes are directly lifted from videos forwarded on whatsapp, like the one in which Raftaar Singh’s friend who is acting as a chicken. Lara Dutta is seen brushing up her acting skills which have rusted a bit after her long break.

Rati Agnihotri’s role could have been a little more elaborate and some well written scenes for her would have garnered some genuine laughs. But the irony is that in our movies,  specially the hit ones, the star hogs all the camera time and leaves little room for an ensemble cast to perform. Amy Jackson tries her best in all the action sequences and may have potential if she chooses the right roles for herself.

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Singh is Bling wastes your time if you have an actual sense of humour and are not stupid enough to be tickled easily. I would suggest you give this one a miss and don’t waste your money. It will anyway be on TV in a couple of months.

My Rating :2/5

Talvar

Indian law is based on one rule, ” Even if ten criminals go Scot free, an innocent person should never be punished for a crime”. And crore of cases pending in our courts are a testimony to that. Our judicial system takes its time and more than its due share of time to deliver justice, probably to ensure that a defendent or an accused gets ample time and a fair chance to prove his innocence before a verdict is passed. But does that always happen? That is the question raised in Talvar.

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The movie delves into the casual attitude that our police system shows in investigation of crimes, their callousness and indifference for the sufferings of the people involved and their sheer inefficiency at their jobs. Having said that, there are honest and efficient officers too but all that happens to them is that they get suspended and transferred as soon as their presence becomes a tad uncomfortable for the higher ups.

As Meghna Gulzar intended while making this film, it does not explore the emotion of the people involved. It just touches that subject and boomerangs back to the technicality and the flow of the investigation that happened, using the Rashomon effect.  There are so many different things that could have happened and we’re either left undiscovered or the police simply did not bother about discovering them.

Talvar is crisp, fast paced and intelligently made. Irfan Khan shines in his role as the CBI investigator Ashvin Kumar who is impeccable and efficient at his job. Konkona Sen Sharma is brilliant as usual and so is Tabu in her short but impactful role.  The references to Ijaazat and Kabhi Kabhi make you smile briefly, amidst and despite all the tension.

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To sum it, Meghna Gulzar is a brilliant daughter of a legendary father and has been an ingenious director, right since Filhaal. We wait for her next venture and hope that she doesn’t take this much time to dole that out.

In the end, we hope that the Arushi murder case,  instead of being tried on TV channels, is tried properly and subjectively again and investigated by an efficient and non biased team. Hope that justice is eventually met.

My Rating: 4.5/5