‘Uma’ Review : A rich tale of expensive wish-fulfillment!

When this movie was announced, the trailer was launched, all eyes were on its director – Srijit Mukherji, was going through a period of time in his career, where nothing clicked for him. His usual cast ensemble, his high-profile scripts, and even literature adaptations couldn’t help his cause. All that wasted/un-used talent was stored somewhere maybe, all this while – until here, where he just uses a tiny spoon-full from his store-house, picks out a real-story for his plot, adapts it in his style.
Here basic human emotions, common parental feelings and cliched Bengali sentiments are dealt with, but with a difference – this is essentially a rich man’s expensive emotions, we are talking about. Srijit drives away the “mass”, with the upper class structure he creates, yet we all feel accomodated, irrespective of how fat our back-pockets are, mainly due to the fact that the crux is a basic father-child relationship – the struggles of a failed marriage, the responsibilities of a single parent, the melancholy of a dying child and the fulfillment of an immature, childish bucket-list.
Based on the life and death of Evan Leversage of Canada, for whom, a whole city celebrated Christmas, earlier than scheduled, as Evan’s last wish. Here, Srijit uses this story as per his need. He celebrates parenthood, childhood, he plays in the delicate corners of anticiapted sorrowful endings and he mixes all of these with the ultimate glorification of “Cinema” – as a life-saving drug, through one of the most beautifully pictured metatheatres of Bengali Cinema history. It is marvelous to see the courage he has to include a sub-plot too many.
Uma wishes to see a Durga Puja, of which she has only heard of, from her single parent, her NRI father. She has 3 months to live, and so (Jishu U Sengupta) Himadri decides to set an alternative reality, where Durga Puja will be celebrated, in April-May.
Without revealing any further, lets just know that, here enters Anjan Dutta, as Brahmananda – an once famous, failed director, who just needs one last chance to redeem himself – to create a master-piece. His sub-plot of a failed family and marriage co-incides with Himadri’s and here lies Srijit’s brilliance in merging plots, into one, making each coherent to other.
The antagonist named as Mohitosh Sur (Anirban) works by suggestion. “Sur” and “Mahisasur” – you understand, don’t you? Infact, this isn’t all of it – every name used, every scene shown has so much of symbolism filled into it. The director (Brahmananda) as God, the father as God, Uma as God – all bow to their creator, Srijit, when at the last scene, there happens a pure cinematic ecstasy, a highly-satisfying poetic justice. All may seem a bit super-imposed, but then, this is a movie about happy-endings to the ultimate tragedy.
The movie’s problem lies, in its celebration – much paradoxically. There is too much of everything, the completion of the bucket-list, defies all imagination, reality and practicality. Though Srijit dedicates this movie to all fathers, everywhere in the world, but there certainly will be a difficulty in identification with Himadri’s character – because he is ‘out-of-the-world’ rich and can grant a wish, too much. There are stretched out scenes, un-necessary dialogues and boring scenes.
Anjan Dutta grabs the movie by its collar, and like the character he plays, gives it, his all. Stunning, fantastic, dream performance from a fading away legend. You pray for his justice, you wish for his masterpiece to be successful, you sympathise him, you glorify him. Jishu U Sengupta enjoys a spell of Midas’ touch. His breakdowns, his joys, his satisfactions in all his impending tragedy almost speaks as a character. Anirban is as usually fantastic as he is, with that voice. At times, he mistakes the cinema for a stage, but he makes all that up in his final revelation. Rudranil and Neel are obviously delightful with Rudranil playing the comic relief. Sayantika appears and disappears before you see her, and fortunately so. Srabanti is little but very aptly used. And now comes the star – Sara Sengupta in and as Uma. What a fine performance from the little girl. Every scene she is in, is a delight. Her expressions, her ease of facing the camera, her diction, her dialogue-delivery, her body language makes her the soul of the film. I personally, never have seen a better child actor in Bengal, before. She is already a star, a long glorious path infront of her, and we wish her all the very best.
Mukherji’s use of surrealism twice, both very much related in parallel context is very successfully attempted. He always has the luxury of a star-studded cast line, a never-ending budget and a brand name – he, only can dream and achieve this project. This isn’t a common man’s movie. The plot isn’t ordinary – but the context is, hence you love it. Uma isn’t just about a terminally ill child’s wish fulfillment, it is about what human beings can attain with the power of love (rich human beings). Share the space with a pitiful father, watch him bring down the moon for her daughter. Share the space with the industry’s little intricacies, watch Brahmananda serve a poetic justice. Share the space with Uma – relive your Durga Puja memories, satisfy your Saptami-Ostomi hunger, for this religion is that of the human, where God plays a puppet.

My rating :- 3.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

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‘October’ Review : Unanswerable Questions of plaintive understanding!

Have you ever been there at a moment, when you feel totally exhausted, fatigued, challenged, frustrated in life, and yet there was a single tiny little bit of light, that kept you going? October is that essence, of awkward, weird, illogical waiting – with an understanding, that the wait is trifling, absurd and endless. It is an abrupt movie – of switching scenes of active participation, busy nuisances and calm passive in-action, where nothing happens.
October isn’t a movie. It is just an autumnal feeling juxtaposed with the genre of love. Love isn’t ecstatic, joyful or loud here. You cannot describe the feeling. It loses all definition. You can’t even judge whether this was love or we took ‘care’, deceiving to be ‘love’. But then you question “care” – why do people care? Why should Dan (Varun Dhawan) care for Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) ? The nurse asks, “uski boyfriend ho tum?” – he isn’t. He isn’t her family even. He is just a co-worker, with whom she hardly ever spoke properly! Then why? Juhi Chaturvedi, doesn’t even dare to answer the question – she leaves it to a much elevated level of paradoxically simple understanding of emotions – very subtle, soft, foolish, immature. The tale is as if enveloped by immaturity, and lack of practicality – yet the tale is about life’s fundamental essence – of living for oneself, of living for another.
It is wonderful to see how carefully Sircar has prevented reality and practicality to creep into the plot and disturb the harmony of a plaintive story. He never tries to drive away the mood of melancholy. He doesn’t let you have a moment of complete joy – He lets you soak in a full autumn, to smile at the aching joys, to laugh at the silly commitments, to enjoy the immature sentiments.  Sircar allows us to have a confused first impression about his protagonist, and just at a point where you will be ready to write him off,  Sircar exposes the soul – once you look at that – you fall in love with the character. You try to find reasons, you can’t and so fortunately you can’t that you feel happy with your failed attempt. October’s crux is based on your in-ability to find a meaning.
The movements in-plot are sudden. You are taken aback by the pace at which tragedies occur, till a point of time, where you feel the anxious anticipation of the next ‘fall’ – and as long as they aren’t falling in lives, they are falling in love – bit by bit, slowly, then all at once – without definition, without meaning, without purpose, without history.
The hospital scenes are horrifying, the visuals are pathetic, only to be punctuated by Dan’s appearance. There is no Varun Dhawan – the “hit machine” here. This is a nameless, faceless, man who has started acting perhaps, just now. He has given his all that he has been saving since Badlapur. Poised in anguish, calm in anger, satiated in sorrow. The constantly brooding individual who can question his hotel staff about why they have put an elastic underwear for laundry, and also the nurse about why there is more urine in Shiuli’s catheter pouch, than there was the previous day! He makes you participate in his melancholy. He makes you feel sorry for his suffering – yet you don’t quite know, why he chooses to suffer. And till the point, when you will not know – you will let October come onto you.
Banita Sandhu takes up a huge challenge. The points where she is just lying in the ICU of a hospital bed, with tubes and channels running all through her body – you feel the horror. That is passive acting at its very best. Her paralyzed self, where she is carried around by Dan, where she wants to smile, but can’t move her lips is delightfully sorrowful. And Sircar, perhaps, for that reason wanted a ‘not-so-famous’ actress, who doesn’t carry the fear of being lost in the action all around, without being herself able to participate in the happenings. She ensures, she does ‘nothing’ – so beautifully accomplished. Gitanjali Rao as her mother, is a delight to watch. She is the perfect mother, who can’t allow the doctors to plug off the ventilation, even after knowing that all hopes are slipping away. Her unseen tears pierce through the scenes.
Music, is all in the background. No song present as a whole sequence, and the constant interplay of fine chords set the perfect mood for celebrating the sorrow. The end is abrupt, extended, and then anti-climactic – there lies the success – anti-climax is the constant dramatic happening. Silence is the most important dialogue and absence is palpable. The camera works by suggestion. There is constant meaning and symbolism in-between the lines.
If you haven’t seen it already, then pick a day to participate in the sorrow. Shed a tear or two, be sad, enjoy the intricacies of not knowing why, and celebrate sadness – celebrate autumn, celebrate the end. Winter will be a harsh month and spring doesn’t necessarily bring rejuvenation. Engage your 1.54 hours of life, in contemplating, meaninglessness.

My rating 4.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

‘Hichki’ Review : The best antidote for Bollywood’s hiccups!

The movie had a hype of a ‘come-back’ of Rani Mukherji, but it turns out to be a ‘come-back’ for the industry as well. This is Dead Poet’s Society extended into Bollywood, not alike, but a similar overtone. As refreshing as it gets, Hichki is a pure attempt towards capturing nostalgia of a school life, nobility of a teacher, combined with an urge to remove the ‘mental hiccups’ of the society through the literal hiccup of the Tourette’s Syndrome. This is the new woman movement that Bollywood frequently undertakes, which has the right amount of feminism, and the perfect blend of socialism. This is a nostalgia trip downtown to your uniform days. It is, at foremost, the story of a school and school tales always associate themselves with that extra bit of longing of “going back in time”. So, this was always going to be a success, provided, it got the spices right. And you bet, it had. First comes the story of the taboos – the “ill” child refused by her father, and the grown up highly educated lady refused by numerous schools for teaching jobs. The first mental “Hichki” of “ignorance” and “refusal”, thus presented, right at the center. In the slideshow of psycho-analysing its audience, the next “Hichki” is of poverty and the class system. Though a wafer-thin make-believe plot is introduced to bring in the students’ POV, but you will have no regrets. The “highly famous” school conducting classes for the poor children of the municipality school (which school has been erased off by this big brother) into a class 9F – No prizes for guessing what F stands for. Here the social constraints, the inequality, the unacceptability of the lower class are showcased via a very sensitive set of sequences from the students’ thought process. You may at one point, switch sides between classes 9A and 9F, but the letter F, attracts more, well, naturally speaking. Jokes apart, these sequences, will produce in you a sense of deep sympathy for the classes you have looked down upon. Siddharth Malhotra makes sure even to take you for a trip, down to their level, for having a better look where you can see poverty pushing education out of its way, into the sordid emotions of the ‘lesser’ Mumbai. The third layer is the “Hichki” of being a teacher, and finding out the right definition of how there are never bad students but only bad teachers. The inter-teaching competitions, are enlightenment messages, open and free for the modern day schooling system. All these layers, with the fine subplot of the “Parent-Son relationship problem”, makes the whole movie a tale of how this Naina Mathur (Rani Mukherji) convinces her robust kids, to rise above their lowly levels, as she accept the challenge of being successful with this batch. The students’ side of the coin is as delightful as it gets. The emotions portrayed are basic children emotions of ego, anger, mischief, love, anchored by a pure heart, shadowed by adolescence. Malhotra puts up the nation’s high level education system in a satirical stage-show – Rani Mukherji glorifies the attempt. Rani is no longer the Tina she used to be. The maturity of her experience glows on her shoulders. There is different sense of confidence and the continuous struggle of carrying off this role of suffering from such a hideous syndrome is highly commendable. Since SRK in My Name is Khan, this is perhaps, for the first time, a lead actor has so brilliantly dealt with illness in a movie. Wadia (Neeraj Kabi) is the teacher, that you wouldn’t want in your class, if you are not a marks hungry student. He resembles the modern-day practicality of the schools. Where the movie flies off, is, in its casting of the students. The Municipal students, just as they are seen in the society and the toppers, just as you hate to see (just joking). They are fantastically well groomed. Everyone so apt in their appearance that the whole classroom seems full of the right amount of sentiments. The music department is appreciable, and the title track is very well composed and placed. The end is a poetic justice, and the movie, even if it reminds you 10% of what you had seen in Dead Poets’ Society, is a must-watch. Yash Raj Films, fresh from shooting a Tiger, I mean, shooting with the “tiger” of the industry, packs a smaller, yet impactful punch with “Hichki”. This deserves all the praise it is receiving. Let your hiccups be mirrored there for a while, don’t forcefully stop them – rather, wait for Naina Mathur to touch your souls, and free you off your metaphorical “Hichki(s)”.

My rating : 4.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

Mayurakshi : The symphony of matured melancholy!

This movie is of the oxymorons of life. This movie is about the pleasured and treasured burdens of everyday relations. This is a story of going back to your roots, to find a place to anchor your worries. This is “a tale told by an idiot” – of the last of the seven stages of man, and his futile tomorrows envelop and enroach you, so much so, that you can’t help but think about the most basic formulae of life – very simple, very sweet.
An age old father, in his “nerve illness” keeps on forgetting the mundanes of life on a stage. He though, being a history teacher, cannot even remember the death anniversary of his wife. He is a man living in the past, who can quote Jimi Hendrix or Gladstone with ease, but can’t remember what he had for lunch that day. A person who can, by one glance, understand that his son is suffering from a mental drabness, but can’t remember that his son is no longer a kid playing for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy, but a grown up man with a grown up stature of being a boss at a MNC, in Chicago. He gets irritated like a child, his desires are childish, his eighty-four years of earthly existence, have bundled up into a delicate frenzy of immature actions. And you know where the irony lies ? It lies in the relief that he cannot quite ‘re-member’ – otherwise he may have not survived the modern day wasteland.
Then there is the son, who finds time in his ‘busy’ schedule to visit his father at a tough time of this illness. He, himself has two failed marriages and cannot risk a third. He, himself finds himself in a mental illness – “Or Mon Bhalo Nei”. And that he comes to attempt a rescue of bringing back his father to normalcy, is his curing of himself with the realisation that, “tomorrow is yet another day” and he has to continue the race.
Now comes the acting part – who else in this huge industry could have done these two roles with so much control that it seems that they were born to act in this movie. Soumitra Chatterjee, in his all of grandfatherly poise and admiration will make you adore him. This isn’t acting behind a rigid set of cameras – this is just an overflow of emotions, irrespective of whether that is for the reel or the real. The way he shouts for nothing, the way he asks his son in the hospital, “amay niye jabi toh aj, bhulbina toh?” – fills your heart with an aching joy – the joy of seeing the beginning – the ache because this beginning is that of the end. He is no longer someone of tollywood and worldly fame – he is just as your grandfather or father, perhaps, would have been at that age. Simplicity redefined.
Then comes Prosenjit Chatterjee, with his baggage full of cinema experience and plays out a set of full 102 minutes in one single identity of being the son and no-one else. The rigidity of the self, shown throughout and his burdens, proven on his face. He can understand his father perfectly, as there has been a role reversal. He plays the guardian. Very calm, sorrowful, matured and graceful. He, on the other hand, dreads his past – not only because they were futile, but also because they are lost with the approaching winged chariot of time. Hence, he cannot shave off his tired beard, even after applying the cream.
The father, as he lives in the past, cannot even remember that his son has left him again, for the western shores, and the son, as he lives in his fatigues, cannot even get the basic humane warmth – Mayurakshi is what could have been, Mayurakshi is the inconclusiveness that life provides. She might have been the best “ashray” for Aryanil and Sushovan knew that – but life won’t give him the second chance, anyway – and she has to die, in the mind.
Sudipta Chakraborty and Indrani Halder play the necessary chords, with Sudipta playing the more important one of being the mother, the care-taker, the daughter to Sushovan. Beautiful dialogue interplay and a wonderful selection of Tagore’s melancholic music helps to stir the soup of over-flowing feelings. When the street-hawker asks Aryanil, “barite purono kichu ache?” – there is a gusto of rushing, crowded thoughts.
On the whole, the film goes nowhere, it is a tale of few fleeting moments of a parent-son relationship, which has no beginning and no end. But this “nowhere”, maybe is the message that Atanu Ghosh wanted to convey. Yet, this movie hurts you where it matters – it pleads with you, begs with you to give time, some time to respect the relations you are into. This film is an orchestra of symphonic heart-aches. If you haven’t watched this, then you should. The pain and the sorrow are necessary for your heart, maybe, for the bigger realisation to happen.
My rating – 4/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

10 Best Bollywood Films of 2017 : Which is your favourite?

1. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion :

I will keep this at No1, solely because of the landmark it created for Indian Cinema, which was no less than a fantasy. The worthy sequel to the hype of Baahubali, this one is straight out from fairytale stuff. S.S.Rajamouli takes off with Prabhas and Anushka Shetty as he tells you the story of “Katappa ne Baahubali ko kyun mara?” in the most spectacular way, ever done on Indian screens. Though, some actions very illogical, but you won’t need logic here. Read my full review of it : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/baahubali-2-indian-cinemas-landmark/

2. Jolly LLB : 2
Akshay Kumar is on a golden touch, and he can never go wrong. Thus the sequel to a wonderful Jolly LLB, is well worth a watch. It is funny, satirical, serious and asks pertinent questions about socio-political conditions of the country. Doing both well in the box office (197cr) and in the critique department, LLB2 is all about a serious court room drama built up through fun-filled sequences.

3. Jagga Jasoos :
Personally, I loved this film. Anurag Basu in his typical best. Set in a Bengal locale and casting some brilliant actors (Except Kaif), the movie is a gem. It is a musical – and the best part is, it has a reason for being so. Though, the 2nd half drags and becomes boring, but again – Jagga takes you on a fun adventure. Saswata Chatterjee – a delight. Read my full review of it : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/jagga-jasoos-review-anurag-basus-treat-to-indian-cinema/

4. A Death in the Gunj :
A not so famous film, lost in between few heavyweights – but pretty well made. Konkona Sen Sharma goes behind the camera and brings out the best cat from her bag. It is a coming of age story, about a shy student Shyamal Chatterjee. The holiday and the family trip that the film starts with turns out into something very messy and suspicious. Read my fellow blogger Srobona’s review on it : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/a-death-in-the-gunj-as-an-anxious-calm/

5. Newton :
Rajkummar Rao is the finest product of Bollywood of recent times and he takes up this satire in a motif to put a mirror on society, on conducting a vote in a maoist region. It contains all the farce of the so called largest democracy of India. Pankaj Tripathi is a delight, again. Though it is slow and much of nothingness happens, it creates a stir. Lost in the crowd of Judwaa 2. Read my full review of it : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/newton-review-break-away-into-reality-from-the-reels-of-cinema/

6. Bareilly Ki Barfi :
Perhaps the sweetest film of the year, and again Rajkummar Rao at the head of it. A very simple plot and a delicately built climax. Though predictable, but enjoyable throughout. Ayushman Khuranna and Kriti Sanon at their best and Pankaj Tripathi again doing wonders. A very Indian locale and brilliant narration by Javed Akhtar. Read my full review of it : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/bareilly-ki-barfi-sweetest-cuisine-of-the-year/

7. Toilet : Ek Prem Katha :
You see Akshay Kumar, you know it is a good film. And in this social fable like movie – Kumar delivers a message more than a movie. Bhumi Pednekar, co-operating very ably and though the message is strong, but the movie is futile and parts and falter in its main motif. A very different type of film, and definitely a brave attempt. This is perhaps more of a government initiative than a entertainment process.

8. Subh Mangal Sabdhan :
A film about erectile dysfunction – yes, you heard it right, and this is an Indian film. 2017, already a brave year for cinema in this nation, this alone defies all odds. The old cliched rom-com given a new stage of scientific setback – again an awareness process. Ayushman’s second of the year, and that too for Bhumi – both are fantastic, combined by a brilliant cast.

9. Ittefaq :
Bollywood sees very less of suspense thrillers – and this is one of them. It includes all. The twist in the end, is one of the best, seen in recent times and for sure it will leave you stunned and very less of you can predict the end. Akshaye Khanna steals the show as the cop. Siddharth Malhotra does not though achieve full potential (except when he breaks down in the prison). Sonakshi Sinha is very under-utilised and seems unsuitable.

10. Raees & Tiger Zinda Hai :
Yes, you will need a bit of commercial stuff, to round it off, and ShahRukh Khan and Salman Khan packs punches in both of them, respectively. They both have seen setbacks in the fates of Jab Harry Met Sejal and Tubelight, but have earned box office collections with the show of muscles. SRK in Raees is fantastic. Salman Khan in Tiger Zinda Hai is in his comfortable pair of shoes. Read my review of Tiger Zinda Hai here : https://critiquesqueblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/tiger-zinda-hai-review-not-at-all-endangered/

Let us know your pick. Happy New Year.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ Review : Not at all endangered!

Salman Khan, finally, gets into his comfortable pair of shoes, and the “bhai-dom” immediately follows. From the dreadful downfall of a Tubelight, just when people were doubting, whether ‘Bhai’ has taken other routes – he brings the Tiger back – this time not from the faithful hands of Kabir Khan, but from the raw hands of Ali Abbas Zafar. Salman Khan has turned into a (super)hero cult for a majority of the Indian Audience, and on his birthday, Bhai has a return gift for the “Bhai-tards” (No offence meant).
Tiger Zinda Hai, doesn’t pick up from its prequel – rather this turns out a socio-religious fable, with an exaggerated amount of hypothetical fantasies, which perhaps looks and sounds good on the screen but not on practical grounds. Did I mention Practical? Oops, all those practicalities, logics, reasonings don’t have footage and don’t bring TRP, for Bhai – here Bhai decides what you see, and boy, he makes sure that the Tiger is still alive and kicking. No-one in this huge industry can ever look so effortless when it comes to action sequences (except Physics), and he gets his old chemistry back (I mean, on screen) with Katrina Kaif as Zoya. Nothing could have gone wrong for an injured Tiger (read : Salman Khan), returning for prey (read : Box office collections) and its very much will take away Bollywood’s Christmas monetary grief over Padmavati.
This is Salman Khan, returning for the masses – and this is where his space is. Tiger Zinda Hai is more about Khan, than about Zafar and at times you feel that Zafar was just catering to the delicacies, Khan was ordering for at the YRF Restuarant. What needs appraisal is, this movie contains a lot of religious overtones and undertones – and it was essential that the sentiments were not hurt, so what Ali did was, he played safe – thus you can see the green of the Indian Flag is not so different to the green of the Pakistani one – he brings together two nations in his script and gives Salman and Katrina the responsibilty to balance them together.
Ali takes up an original base – the story of the nurses captured by terrorist organizations, in Mosul, Iraq and gives his Tiger a platform for his own show of muscle power. He gives a very recognizable fictional name to the Terrorist Organisation and the story already had substance in it, the manner in which it was enacted is debatable.
Salman enters the scene fighting the wolves, saving his son, somewhere in Austria, where he is married to Zoya (Kaif), the ex ISI agent. Just when you were longing to see Kaif, she is introduced with a similar action sequence, but this time with burglars – just that you know that both the Tiger and his Tigress are still as able as they were, 8 years back. RAW needs Tiger to rescue the nurses and ISI needs Zoya to rescue them too – so for the first time in Indian Cinema – RAW and ISI works hand in hand to save the nurses from Iraq – nostalgia, huh? No space for that – full of jaw-dropping and crowd-pulling action sequences with a terrific use of slo-mo makes you go for a “whistle” here and there maybe, even if believe yourself to be far away from his fanbase. Use of guns, grenades and brains (very less) continues as you are stunned by Katrina Kaif’s body fitness. No other actress in this country can pack a punch as she does and thus, it is a happy return for both of them.
Plot movement is quick, scenes change very swifty and very fine amount of music. He never allows you to shift focus from the main event. We all know the end, but the process towards it, may be not classy, but definitely is enough to keep movie halls packed.
RAW, ISI – all these you hear, and you start thinking about Neeraj Pandey, and you start missing a character like Anupam Kher. Hence, Ali gives you Paresh Rawal. A man, very much away from his genre, tries to bring the same sense of comic relief, but at the end, you don’t go to watch Tiger Zinda Hai for Paresh Rawal. Kumud Mishra is under-utlisied and Girish Karnad is the same as you left him in Ek Tha Tiger. Sajjad Delafrooz as Abu Usman is terrific and can send a chill down your spine. Lots of familiar faces amongst the nurses and Angad Bedi as Namit makes his own space, easily.
At the end of all of these, its important, we don’t miss out on the seriousness of what is happening in these countries and what wastelands have we created for ourselves. This is cinema, so there will be happy endings – which will definitely bring in you a craving that how good it would have been if these endings were real ends and not reel ends.
Salman Khan is in his own here – he needs no help. He has built his body back (Am I hearing VFX?), and he will show you his abs, don’t worry. He gets in his grove and he is in a brilliant mood on his prowl.
Tiger Zinda Hai, is one of those movies which Bollywood needs, more than anything, at the end of the year – to make people crazy, to hang “Houseful” boards on single screen cinema halls and make and break records in the financial department. How shy you may feel about watching movies where huge machine guns can be hand held and used, without moving your body – but the bottom-line is, Bollywood still feeds on these, and you may not love them, but you have to respect them, just for what Salman Khan adds to the industry, just with his muscle power and Ali makes sure to keep a space for this Tiger, for future prowls, and as many times this tiger is out, in future jungles, that many times will he add to his cult image, those final pieces, before he moves out, forever. This tiger is definitely not, endangered, but frightening at parts.

My rating 2.5/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

AMAZON OBHIJAAN Review : Bengali Cinema’s new visual landmark! 

These 140 minutes are very new to Bengali Cinema –  very brave in Bengali Cinema and very spectacular for even world cinema. Kamaleshwar Mukherjee takes upon a huge task – a task of taking a group of bengalis for a jaw-dropping tour, where every scene is an ecstasy of places of which you have only read about or fantasized visiting. This is a setting of a new benchmark – the dimensions of this film are huge, the grandeur is marvelous – the adventure is exciting.
At a time when Tollywood is on a roll with gems being produced one after another – Mukherjee takes up the challenge of taking his hero back to where he left him at “Chander Pahaar”. This time, a tribute and penned by the director himself, Amazon Obhijaan is both a worthy sequel and a noble tribute to Bibhuti Bhusan Bandyopadhyay. This is one of those movies, where the attempt matters more than the product. He puts his faith on Dev, and except the pronunciations here and there, Dev doesn’t disappoint much (with his recent touch of form). The story is no less an epic, but is nagging – it is slow and very detailed. Kamaleshwar with his own voice as an omnipresent narrator, helps to build up the pace but at certain points, the travel is hectic, and you start longing to reach the destination rather than enjoying the journey. Half of the words are lost in translation – either because foreigners speaking in awful Bengali or Dev speaking in a pretty bad english accent.
Coming to the story, this surely took a lot of time planning the whole map out – once the ship sails out, it was all in the hands of Mukherjee – there was great freedom in the movements and he could have taken this anywhere. But he takes Shankar for a pre-planned trip to the rain-forests of Amazon, for an exploration of an imaginary ‘gold’ city  – yes, for real for the reel. Shot extensively across Brazil, this is the first Indian movie to be attempted there. This is a visual treat for Christmas and Mukherjee is the Santa! Dev, returning as Shankar, is very much at home. An actor with a meteoric rise by his side, is on a golden touch. Fighting the trolls and the memes of the social media, he performs where it matters. Its time, we start acknowledging his efforts now. His pronunciation still needs a lot of improvement, but he has moved away from “plabian” show of muscles to a classy show of hard-work.
It is sad how directors take it for granted that Bengali audience will not be able to understand english – and hence you see foreigners speaking in a cliched disgusting bengali tongue and Shankar speaking bengali in even, Brazil and translating every other english word  to bengali. Background score is gorgeous, it perhaps plays as a character – enhancing the feel of the whole building up. There are over-stretched scenes, unnecessary conversations and is 20 minutes too long. For the side cast, Svetlana Gulakova is brilliant and David James is bit too dramatic. Amazon Obhijaan is one of its kind – with a better use of CGI and VFX, this would have ranked amongst the best, but this is no less – it misses the mark in some areas, but the courage to bring this out in a regional film is brilliant, and there is where, Mukherjee will win hearts and hall collections.
Just at the right time, when the city starts celebrating and you are in an year ending mood, you will love this extravaganza to the El Dorado. You will see visuals which will stir you, frighten you and pump you up for the right kind of winter. This is movie making in a state of hyperbole. The winds and the tides are in favour now – board the boat, raise the sails of Bengali cinema, and sail away into a delightful embroidery of a stunning journey. Accompany Shankar and Co. to a fantasy – the dream may flatter, but the motive will not falter.

My Rating 3/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

VIKRAM AND VEDHA: AS STUDY OF DICHOTOMOUS MORAL JUDGEMENT

Language: Tamil

According to the Chinese philosophy of Taoist metaphysics, the everlasting conflict and duality between good and bad are not real. From this, the symbol of Yin and Yang comes along and describes how dichotomous moral judgments can be. And seemingly two opposing forces don’t repel but complement each other. However hazardous they are to one another but in the process of the conflict, the duality becomes One and creates a globe inside its own.
Vikram Vedha deals with some very basic human psyche which plays a silent role in each of our actions. It deals with the intricacies of both the worlds of thesis and antithesis. From the very first encounter between Vikram and Vedha the juxtaposition between good and evil is drawn by the apparent shirt-colors they wore; Vikram’s white shirt defines the obvious goodness in human nature for which he stands in the world of thesis and sleeps peacefully at night, being assured that his pursuits are for nothing but righteousness and justice. On the other hand, Vedha’s black shirt is supposed to represent the terrain of the human psyche which has a reflection of darkness and wrongdoing. This is the scene where Vedha first comes in front Vikram and offers to tell him a story much like ‘Betal’ telling Vikramaditya a story. So it is pretty evident that in this scene the prominence of the two extreme worlds is shown and divided by a line in between. As Vikram approaches Vedha about his sudden appearance at the police station Vedha offers to tell him the story of his life. But the only thing he keeps on implying to Vikram’s discomfort, that they both are same: they both are criminals, both are murderers.
Madhavan’s brilliant portrayal of Vikram renders a sense of draconian measures of what is right and what is wrong. The fine line between the good and evil might be prominent to the eyes of an ignorant, but as we come in the light from the shadows of illusion or in the case of Vikram, the shadows of denial, the line seems to fade away and becomes obliterated.
In fact, I was having this fascinating discussion with my friend who mentioned the character of ‘Vedha’ to be the villain in the story, and I am sure most of us who watched the movie imaged him in a similar manner. But, an antagonist is someone who stands as a hazard in the way to the development of the plot can be called a villain. Knowing this, those of you who have watched the movie can you call Vedha, a villain? Does he stand in the way of Vikram’s pursuit of truth or rather compliments it?
Vikram is absolutely unaware after the completion of the first story, that he is also playing the ‘instrument’ by taking a stroll in Vedha’s ventures. Vedha sets in a see-saw motion where Vikram is unaware of his stance and plays along, only to dilute the line between right and wrong. This instance again brings back the reference of the folklore of ‘Vikram Aur Betal’ where Vedha is constantly diminishing Vikram’s notion of being on the side of justice and honesty.
In the second story, Vikram is placed even further from this notion. Pulli’s unjust death leading to the death of Officer Simon creates an enormous ruckus when Vedha walks him through the point he is shaken to his core, knowing Pulli was an innocent young fellow and his blood is on his hands. Vedha takes his second escape by creating another commotion in the plot. In between all the turbulence of the events Vikram focuses on his motorcycle and tries to fix it, since it wasn’t being ridden for long, and to our surprise he receives a piece of machinery from Vedha which fixes it, at last, giving us the obvious hint that Vedha is the key to Vikram’s mind and vice-versa.
According to the folklore of ‘Vikram and Betal,’ it is described how king Vikramaditya is cursed by a monk, which entrails Betal to hang over his shoulder and to riddle him with different questions of challenges. At the end, we discover the police force is acting as the puppet masters, and how they plot Vikram to kill Vedha. On the final encounter like the color of their shirts, Vikram and Vedha becomes one globe, yet stand as the alter ego of the other. But when Vikram and Vedha becomes one, who belongs neither from the world of thesis nor the antithesis, he belongs to nothing but chaos. Chaos to the world and to himself. At the end, two of them at gunpoint with one another show the everlasting conflict.
The movie by its marvelous screenplay and how a folklore turns into a thriller amazes me to its best. I recommend all of you to please watch it. So, those you haven’t watched it yet, take some data out of those free gigabytes and get the torrent – you will be fascinated.

 

Article by Srobona Choudhury.

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.

‘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.