Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana : Its good if you can have an excuse for not attending!

Take Behen Hogi Teri, take Bareilly Ki Barfi and take Rajkummar Rao. In the next step, add some age old predictable story line, keep the climax as same as you can : Tadaa : You have successfully made Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana. This is a typecast movie with a slight change of recipe – the end product is a dish, that you have tasted many a times and your tongues are bored of having it over and over.
SMZA contains everything that you have seen in your tryst with Bollywood. From feminism, to “Beti is equal to Beta” campaigns, “shaadi” dramas and the very similar happy endings. The movie manages to fiddle with some chords “dil se”, bring out a smile or two, bring a thin cloud of the “what will happen next” flavour, but fails to create an overall impact – this shall not linger. If you have seen the trailer, you must have known that this is a leaf, straight out of the “How to make Cliched Movies”‘s book and if you are a victim of anxiety and cannot bear even a tinge of suspense, then this movie is for you, mainly because of two reasons : a. These movies never end without a happy ending (they have taken SRK too seriously from Om Shanti Om) and b. it is so predictable that, your diabetes(if there) will not take a leap, for sure.
Its an attempt of making a social parody which again hits out at the tradition of arranged marraiges and “ladki wale” inferior to “ladke wale” motifs and the career vs marraige theme. The bride and the groom are shown as commodities for sale, and their value is bargainable – and its all done with good heart by Ratnaa Sinha, but comeon, director, we have seen these before and we know what happens next (wikipedia can save you the embarrasment, if you don’t). The story of a boy and a girl falling in love after they have been arranged for a marraige, the twist on the day of marraige and the revenge of the Hero, which turns out to be a war for love, of love and from love, and the eventual rounding off of events and the shaadi finally happening – yes, you have seen all of these.
Rajkummar Rao is in a golden period of his bollywood career, with his CV containing a list of some brilliant movies – but he is in danger of being a typecast. Rao of Behen Hogi Teri, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana are being casted into a stereotype character with a fiddle here or there. Nonetheless, he masters the art – he is a masterpiece on display – from owning up accents, to changing moods in a space of minutes – Rao is a delight on screen.
Kriti Kharbanda comes from that era of Bollywood heroines, who have the right dose of glamour and skill – they are fresh faces on the screen, and a much needed breakaway from the “babuji mujhe jaane do babuji…” types. She makes the screen glitter with her presence, and looks beautiful, acts beautiful!
The very able and known sidecast of the film, suits to the needs of the marraige party. The musical section is pure ecstasy. Every song, very well spaced and so much in melody. The unnecessary “Pallo Latke” is thankfully in the end credits.
Again, very unfortunately, this is a movie of many promises, which it could’nt keep. It had the spark to start a fire, but lacked the fuel. Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Kharbanda make the film watchable (once), but sadly this marraige is full of old faces of relatives you don’t want to meet and a menu, you have had before. If you can, then avoid this invitation, and wait for the marraige’s video recordings to come to you (read : torrent).

Rating 2.5/5.

Article by : Anish Banerjee.

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‘Newton’ Review : Break-away into reality, from the reels of cinema!

Amit V.Masurkar puts up a whole democracy on a trial – files and fights a strong case against his own people, comes out winning – tearing down the facade, and destroying a masquerade party of a nation’s celebration of being the “largest democracy”. It has been described as a “black comedy” – here, the black is too strong to envelop a tri-colour into it. The film comes from a production house, full of national awards. This house has been gifting us with gems, and this, though not as strong as the gravitational pull of Newton’s invention, but the effect too strong. This is the high-dose anti-biotic that a nation needed, to come out of the foolery – but the question is, can the Judwaa population allow the mockery to be stopped?
The story isn’t something of a genius, it is simple. Setting, even simpler, but Masurkar makes sure, it’s enough. Loaded with sarcasm, puns and a delightful dialogue writing, the story of an election being conducted in a Maoist territory, turns out to be an uncomfortable yet brilliant 106 minutes, where your own nation is put up on a mirror show.
Rajkummar Rao, is an actor, who outperforms himself in each of his films. He is a pocket-sized dynamite and he never dissapoints. With very able support from Pankaj Tripathi, Rao carries the film on his shoulders – the burden was massive, given that the film contains a very nonchalant cast line. Newton, both the movie and the character, is bold, fearless and haunting. It lights up a dark section of this vast society, which remains in the shadow of violence, madness, otherness, oppression.
Music, mostly background, is used beautifully, totally in accord with the tone. The not-so-famous cast, being used, is wonderful to look at and to devour into. Performances are stupendous. Camera work, specially framing of scenes, is as good as it can get.
This doesn’t aim at providing a solution to the permanent solutions to the problems of this democracy and its system, but just shows them as they are and in doing so, it hits pretty hard at the right places. Newton has the feel of Samuel Beckett, where we wait for nothing to happen, and nothing does happen, but that ‘nothing’ is the message where we arrive at, at the end – and its not a happy one – rather, its a mockery of all happy-endings around and we know that if there was a Newton 2, the things would have remained the same – there is zero progress.
The film is slow in its construction. Too many scenes have been used up in vain to arrive at the climax, which is itself a bit anti-climactic. 106 minutes is a bit too long for a movie which is sure about the little it has to offer. There has always been the danger of in making more of things than they actually are, but Masurkar curtails himself, excellently. With full of subtlety, he makes sure to bring out the best of what he had. Existential, ethical, political, personal – this is a blend of all.
Newton is one of those movies which releases in between blockbusters, quietly and suddenly generates the noise, it had to create. Once, that stir is created amongst the audience, Newton leaves quietly, again. It’s one of those reality checks that India needed, in between the glamour and ecstasy of huge budget commercials. This is like an awful tasting medicine, that you don’t like to have, but you need to have – for your health, and for the health of the nation. If you had been too busy with celebration of life, then take some time out and celebrate the fool’s party – this fool here, is too intelligent to handle, beware!

My rating : 3.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

Bareilly Ki ‘Barfi’ : Sweetest Cuisine of the year!

Just at a time, when Bollywood was going down the hill and even ‘Bhai’ and ‘Badshaah’ could not help but stare at empty halls, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari brings out the cat from the bag. This is just what the industry needed, the audience needed, the movie-lovers needed, at this point of time. Flying high with Nil Baatey Sannata, Tiwari keeps the altitude going, and how. This is that particular Barfi, you need after a heavy not-so-good dinner (JHMS), to re-activate your taste buds – a give-away to pure delight.

Bareilly Ki Barfi, is, one of those rare “feel-good”, “low-budget”, “not-so-appealing cast” movies, which brings out a smile, a laugh, a clap, and a whole lot of fun – all in the most appropriate manner. The plot kept so beautifully simple, yet so utterly delicious (pardon me for using so many adjectives from the dinner plate). This rom-com is full of love, yet not at all over-exposed, full of laughter, yet not at all slapstick, full of joy, yet not at all super-imposed. This is movie-making in its purest form – where everything seems to be in the perfect balance.

The sweet, simple story of the Mishra Family of Bareilly and their only loving-girl – Bitty Sharma (Sanon) revolves through one giant, yet very understandable plot web. She reads a novel and finds out that the novel’s protagonist and her character to be the same and this, thus becomes her search for the “actual” author of the book and whether he is that someone in the small town of Bareilly who could really love the free-spirit of Bitty, after many rejections by a dozen of suitors! There are very subtle, yet strong currents of the cynical feminist questions, which may seem tiring by now, but Tiwari does not indulge into that, too much, fortunately.

This is a movie, basically of three characters and thus, it depended on where they took this. There were no big names on the cast list (fortunately so) and oh boy, how amazingly, they take up their responsibilities and come out in flying colours.

Its a pity that Bollywood took such long time to finally unveil a gem – three movies, too long, but the wait could not have produced a sweeter result – Kriti Sanon, is finally here, and we can’t just have enough of her. Removing the dust from her closets full of Heropanti, Dilwale and Raabta, Sanon is here, in her full majestically charming flow and this Barfi is sweeter than ever. She looks superlatively beautiful and acts even better. First time perhaps, she gets the ground under her feet.

Ayushmann Khurrana is a fantastic find – little misused, in recent years, but he takes the baton, from where he left it at Vicky Donor. It was a tough task, filling in the vacant shoes of an un-attractive Jab Harry Met Sejal, but he makes sure that he makes his audience re-beileve in, on-screen “reel romance” in the most “real world” ways.

But, then comes Rajkumar Rao, who snatches away the movie from both of them, makes you fall for his acting and when time is up, gifts the climax back to Khurrana – in between, commanding every corner – from dialogues to appearances. The stupid fellow’s (Pritam Vidrohi) transformation to a bad-ass, and back to his natural self, is perhaps the backbone of this film. He is the one of those very few persons in the industry, who helps in keeping the fire alive.

Pankaj Tripathi and Seema Bhargava in the film, are those personalities, whom you will definitely find, if you visit the towns of India – very naturally done. Javed Akthar’s narration is the cherry on the cake.

Camera work is nothing very extra-ordinary, but very just and very apt. Interplay of township images and framing the subtle moods of fleeting love are brilliantly done. Music is inspiring and not too much in quantity. Tiwari knows where to stop the lyric and start the dialogue, pretty well.

Diabetes or No Diabetes, you have to taste this Barfi. This taste will linger, and may not have have proteins to add to your mind and body, but definitely has the charm of keeping you glued to the sweet shop, oops, cinema hall. Its difficult to regain trust on your wallet after TubeLight and JHMS, but this will be worth every penny, and who knows, you might order some more Barfi(s) from Bareilly for yourself and for your family, your loved ones, after tasting the first one. Grab your plate, before stocks run out, order as many as you want, devour yourself in the sweetness – because this is a limited edition cuisine, made with lots of love and care, and I believe, you will be licking your lips for more.

My Rating 4.5/5.

Article by – Anish Banerjee.

A DEATH IN THE GUNJ- AS AN ANXIOUS CALM

P.S :- Spoilers included.

THE COINAGE OF THE WORD “SEANCE” DIRECTLY COMES FROM THE FRENCH WORD FOR “SEAT”, WHICH GENERALLY IN FRENCH HAD A MEANING “TO SIT” OR TO HAVE A “SESSION”. HOWEVER IN ENGLISH THE MEANING GOT A LITTLE DEFLECTED AND CAME OUT TO BE A SESSION TO CALL UPON SPIRITS OR GHOSTS. THE MYSTERY OF THE AFTERLIFE OR THE MYSTERY BEHIND DEATH IS WIDESPREAD YET UNSOLVED.

KONKONA SEN SHARMA, USUALLY KNOWN AS AN ACTOR, UNFURLS INTO HER DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, A DEATH IN THE GUNJ IS TAKEN AND INSPIRED FROM THE STORY “A DEATH IN THE McKLAUSKIEGUNJ’ BY MUKUL SHARMA.IT IS AN UNCONVENTIONAL PIECE OF WATCH FOR ITS INTIMATE CONNECTION WITH THE HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND BEHAVIORAL TRANSITION. THE TITLE STRONGLY HOLDS A HINT OF A MURDER MYSTERY BUT AS THE STORY UNFOLDS IT RARELY STANDS UP TO IT.

THE DEATH AND WHAT LEADS TO THE CATASTROPHE IS AN UTMOST CONFUSION. KONKONA LEAVES A PERFECT EXAMPLE BEHIND IN DEALING WITH DEATH IN THE CALMEST WAY POSSIBLE. SHYAMAL OR AS HE IS COMMONLY KNOWN, SHUTU (VIKRANT MASSEY) PLAYS A SILENT PRONOUNCER OF THE DYNAMIC RAPTUROUS OF THE SITUATIONS THAT ARE PRECEDING. THE MOVIE IS FILLED WITH SYMBOLS OF DEATH. THE DEAD FATHER’S SWEATER WHICH HE PUTS ON, EMBRACES THE POSSIBILITY OF DEATH AND DISMAY ON SHUTU’S LIFE.THIS SHOWS HIS INTERNAL HE IS THE FEARFUL KID STILL TO BE A ‘MAN’, CONSTANTLY CHASED BY THE ANXIETY OF LOSS AND FAILURE. HE ACTS AS A PUNCHING BAG OF THE ENTIRE FAMILY, KEEPS ON TAKING ALL DIFFERENT COMMANDS OF DIFFERENT DEMANDS UNTIL HE DOES REVOLTS. HE IS DEFENSELESS AND VULNERABLE AND PLAYS THE PREY OF OTHERS. WE ALL MUST HAVE GONE THROUGH THAT CERTAIN PERIOD OF OUR LIVES WHERE WE HAVE FELT ALONE AND UNIMPORTANT. SHUTU IS THE BRILLIANT PORTRAYAL OF THIS, THUS BINDING HIMSELF IN THE SHACKLES OF CHILDISHLY THINGS AND INVOLVING HIMSELF IN THE ACTIVITIES OF TAANI. HE IS A SHY, INTROVERT BOY FEELING ALIENATED AND UNWELCOMED IN HIS FAMILY.

AMONG ALL THE PROMINENT ELEMENTS DEATH IS A CERTAIN AND MAJOR ONE IN THE MOVIE. THE VIEWERS ARE IN A CONSTANT ANTICIPATION OF AN EVENTUAL LOSS OF ONE OF THE CHARACTERS. INTERESTINGLY THE MOOD IS CALM AND EVEN IN THE IN MOMENTS OF AGITATION THE CALMNESS PRICKS IN AN UNEASY WAY THAT IT RENDERS THE MOOD OF EERIE.

IN THE BEGINNING WE ARE CERTAIN THAT THE DEATH HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE, AS A BODY IS BEING TRIED TO PUT IN A FOETAL POSITION. AS WE PROCEED IN THE MOOD WE WOULD NATURALLY FEEL A KIND OF AMBIANCE WHICH IS NOT SO HORRIFYING, BUT SHUTU’S OCCASIONAL PROJECTION OF HIS “OVER SENSITIVE” SIDE KEEPS US REMINDED ABOUT THE FACT THAT APART FROM BEING A TAG-ALONG IN THE VACATION HE PLAYS A MERE CARE TAKER OF THE CHILD.

KONKONA’S BRILLIANCE IS EVIDENT BY THE FACT THAT SHE DOES NOT PAY HEED UPON USING MUCH WORDS INTO AN ACTION; WHEREAS IT SHOWS THAT SUBTLE EXPRESSIONS AND PRECISED DIALOGUES HEIGHTEN THE UNDERLYING MEANING AND HELPS TO RESURFACE SUBTEXTS. MIMI (KALKI KOECHLIN) IS THE WOMAN WHO USES HER SEXUALITY AS A WEAPON BECAUSE DEEP DOWN SHE IS A VULNERABLE SOUL WHO JUST SEEKS UNDIVIDED ATTENTION AND IS NOW TORN APART BETWEEN HER INTEGRITY AND HER FORMER LOVER. AS A RESULT SHE THROWS HERSELF TO ANOTHER VULNERABLE THAT IS SHUTU, AND DECEIVES HIM BY GIVING HIM A FALSE HOPE OF A FUTURE WHICH IS NEVER TO BE THERE.

THE SÉANCE TAKES PLACE AS MERE INVOLVEMENT IN THE REMOTE RURAL STATE WHERE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO BE ENGAGED WITH AND TURNS OUT TO BE A PRACTICAL JOKE AGAINST SHUTU. IN ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE IT IS A VITAL SYMBOL OF DEATH. SHUT IS BEING BULLIED AGAIN AND BEING TOLD THAT HE WILL BE THE ONE TO DIE FIRST.THEY KILLED AN ALREADY DOOMED SPIRIT ALL OVER AGAIN. AS A RESULT SHUTU DREAMS OF A MAN WHO KILLS HIM IN HIS SLEEP WITH A GUN, WHILE THE SCENE IS TENSED WITH A TRIBAL SONG IN THE BACKGROUND. THE SLICE OF FRUIT CAKE IS ANOTHER PORTEND TO THE DEATH. IN THE CLIMAX WHEN SHUTU FALL INSIDE THE PIT AND EVERYONE FORGETS ABOUT HIM IS SYMBOLIC OF HIS OWN PREDICAMENT. IN THE MEANWHILE THE CALMNESS CONTINUES TO BUILD UP AND THE VIEWERS ARE LEFT UNSETTLED AND ANXIOUS.

SHUTU’S SECRET IS REVEALED IN FRONT OF ALL AND HIS IMPORTANCES EBBS DOWN TO A CERTAIN POINT WHERE HE IS TOLD TO GO BACK TO HIS MOTHER. THE SHY BOY, AFRAID OF RESPONCIBILITIES AND PRESSURED BY EXPECTATIONS, GETS SHATTERED. FINALY THE TONE OF CALMNESS BREAKS WHEN SHUTU IS LET DOWN BY MIMI AND GATHERS A HORRIFYING TRANQUILITY. AFTER THE GUNSHOT, I THINK MOST OF US ARE CONFUSED WITH THE NEXT SCENE. YES, IT WAS SHUTU WHO KILLED HIMSELF TO PAINT HIS BLOOD ON THE FAMILY TREE. BUT FIGURE AT THE BACKSEAT IS THE MOST AMAZING SYMBOL WHICH HAS TO BE DECIPHERED. EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH SHUTU IS NON-EXISTING, LIKE HIS BODY HIS MEMORIES ARE ALSO TUCKED INSIDE THE TRUNK AND WILL NEVER BE OPENED AGAIN. THIS MOVIE HAS A MOTIF WHICH HAS TO BE THOUROUGHLY STUDIED AND REVISED.

AN AMAZING WORK OF ART.

Article by :- Srobona Choudhury.

Jab Harry Met Sejal : Nonchalant Plot only lightened up by SRK-Anushka! 

Jab Harry Met Sejal is a long awaited meeting. A meeting of old times. Here is ShahRukh Khan, not of recent times, not the SRK – The King of Bollywood, The Badshaah – but that man who could tune a love story with his own personal chords, who could look into the eyes of a girl and express a million emotions all together, who could speak to the air of the mustard fields of Punjab, who could rule the heart of Sinorita on the screen, and thousands of Sinoritas off the screen.  This movie is the meeting of that particular ShahRukh Khan with his audience, with his fans – who had been waiting long to cherish those unsaid moments , so easily flushed out and blushed out  by a look, a stare, a glance, a move. Yash Chopra’s ShahRukh is back in the form of Harry and Imtiaz Ali, thankfully, uses ShahRukh’s personal property – his romance – as the main asset of the film. But he chooses a wrong film to do so.

JHMS contains one of the simplest of stories in the industry – very much recognizable, nothing extra-ordinary and quite predictable. Yet, it is said that it has been made to win hearts. Its soothing, vulnerable, light-hearted, and only at points you can’t help but sit there and take all of it inside, bit by bit, sip by sip. . Imtiaz Ali makes a strong start to the film. Within few scenes, it will grip you up. You will be well equipped with the theme and there is everything that is required in a beginning of a rom-com. But the movie falls after a while and suddenly, becomes monotonous. Added to it, is a continuous sequence of 3 songs which make you feel like you have been watching YouTube videos in a cinema hall. Fortunately, there is the intermission and Ali learns from his mistake pretty quickly. The result is a much better paced 2nd half and JHMS again picks up the tempo and here is where there is plenty to swoon for. But still the story doesn’t go anywhere and you know how it ends already. ShahRukh Khan at his romantic best with a fairy-alike Anushka Sharma. Here is where your original journey gathers little pace with those two on screen – your journey of love, heartbreaks, ‘sejal’ of emotional connections and an intense longing for a “happy ending”.  Imtiaz Ali hasn’t worked on anything here basically!

This is an age-old Indian love-story shot in Europe and Ali doesn’t complicate matters here and that is why the movie looks simpler yet calm, and nothing to beat the craze. The idea of “what you seek is seeking you” becomes clearer and you are guided to an ending, which by now you can have guessed (if you have been watching Bollywood for long enough). There is nothing of Tamashaa’s literature here, but a sparkling, loving chemistry.

Cinematography and camera work are simple too, but very bright, less symbolic and brilliant play of some amazing night shots. Locations all around Europe will make you long for a long paid holiday.

Anushka Sharma is like a fairy-dream lady here. She is fantastic throughout. Steals ShahRukh’s thunder at some places even. Matching a matured ShahRukh Khan, known for his everlasting romance, she is at the same tempo – even higher at places. She owns Sejal and true to her character name – she is like those waves of the river – with which you sway along. She looks immensely beautiful and is so at home with this genre. You just want her to be with you all the time on the screen.

ShahRukh Khan comes back to his comfort zone (a weak zone for all the girls around) from the psychological and mafia genres of Fan and Raees respectively – and sorry to say – he looks so better here in his own shoes. It may have taken time to see him back here again but he can rule a full time-space of 143 minutes without packing a punch, shooting a bullet or delivering a plebeian “Siti wala” dialogue. His eyes speak a thousand unsaid words. His expressions can build a storm in the calmness of hearts and he is here doing what he does best – mohabbat –  who can make thousands sing “humko hum hi se churalo” . His age although shows up on his face and there is perhaps not a place to hide from that. Sadly there is no plot to back him up and carries too much, burden shows up!

A very little (and very thankfully so) side cast – which again keeps to the simplicity. Music is good, loud, but very badly placed – congested. Run-time could have been lesser too.

Go with your “near and dear” ones to your nearest theatres, get away from over the top plots of intense drama all around – this will not hurt your brain muscles, but will surely tickle some of your heart’s – and how familiar the whole plot will seem – it will be a comfortable place to find yourself in, maybe – check out whether you, too, are seeking what seeks you. Go Go, begin the search soon, help your Sejal to find a ring, if you already have found your Sejal, that is.

My rating 2.5/5.

Article by Anish Banerjee.