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.

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.

Jagga Jasoos Review : Anurag Basu’s treat to Indian Cinema!

Jagga Jasoos is one of those once in a blue moon occasions when something occurs for a period of time, which is beautiful and takes us in a transient journey to an unknown land full of all kind of emotions but all differently felt through. And when this ends, you are again back to your daily drabbing routine, longing for another such break. This is a breath of fresh air into the industry. This is daring. This is out of the age. This is unique. This is a basket of freshly picked out apples. Yet, this is too early. Indian Audience is still not ready to accept this genre, whose burden is enough to pull the movie down. The success lies in the attempt. And the attempt is glorious. Jagga Jasoos is a audio-visual treat in the age of some brilliant movie-making.
If you still haven’t figured it out, Yes! This is a “musical” – and hence don’t complain about too many songs. India has not seen many such films, hence this is something new in the market, which the customers will take time to get accustomed to. But where the movie ticks the right box is, this musical is totally logical. For, perhaps, the first time here, we see a musical where the characters have a reason to sing phrases, instead of delivering dialogues – and that is a masterstroke which wins over you right from start. The next aspect of this being a musical, yet so beautiful is, each of the songs (in dialogue form) are so well composed, that no line ever feels out of place. The music is infectious and you can’t help but sing along. Then again, in the 2nd half, this too drags a bit. By then, you have heard a song too many. Anyway, you will groove along to the end.
The non linear progression used, is, in place, but somewhere you struggle to catch up. A little bit scattered. Coming to acting, Saswata wins the scenes, our hearts. He totally bosses around showing India, what Bengal boasts about – accompanying him is Rajatava – a gust of cool wind blown into the movie, which you enjoy, you cherish. Ranbir Kapoor is going through that phase of life where he does everything right, yet fails to win fame in the box-office. Its a pity. He is amazing throughout. Donning the most difficult role, he out performs himself. He carries on from where he left at Barfi, but for that you cannot blame him. Anurag Basu has clung to Barfi tightly, and that carries the after effect here too. Its all so easy for RK here, it seemed, where many “legendary” actors would have failed. Katrina Kaif is the weak link, unfortunately. She feels as a fish out of water. How many times can “tum toh pada likha London se kiye ho” save Kaif’s hindi diction in a movie? She tries her best, and looks wonderful, but there were many others in the industry who could have been a better fit.
Saurabh Shukla is one of those artists, whom Bollywood found out a bit late. But as cliche goes, better late than never – beacause this man is a gem. Overall, the cast is the heart of the film, and this heart is very strong.
Coming to the one of the best things about the film – its cinematography. Out of the world visuals, delightful backdrops, jawdopping locations and some magnificent framing – some excellent eyes and hands behind the camera.
There are two major flaws here in this one – firstly, this could have have been well 20 minutes short. At the later stages of 2nd half, you are on the brink of giving up and it is tedious. Many chase sequences could have been cut short, or totally deleted. The second flaw is not at all countable from my side – that is, you may ask questions like “How can this happen? This never happens in reality. Why did he do that? How did it end like that?” – all these questions are unnecessary here. Because this film is far away from the realms of reality, and thankfully so. You have to let go of your “jasoosi” feelings, before you enter the hall. Fairly-tales are beautiful only in dreams. Let these 161 minutes of your life be a dream.
On the whole, this is not one of those films you get to see 365 days a year. This falls under a ‘Special’ category in the hall of fame. So, savour this feeling, give your ears a treat, your eyes a delightful visual and your over-working brains, a much needed rest. Let go of all that has been happening outside the doors of your cinema halls and drown into this. You will come out, soaked, totally, in a mixed feeling of joy, satisfaction, childish delight and a sense of curiosity too (for a very special appearance at the end). Go watch this ‘once in a while’ happening, Anurag Basu has prepared a musical treat for you – and its delicious, the taste will linger.
My rating – 4/5.

Article by :- Anish Banerjee.

Posto : Cinema’s gift to grandparents on Mothers’ Day!

Posto” on the dish, on the screen –  it is the same beautiful taste which the Bengalis are addicted to. This is a movie straight from the dining table of Bengali Households. All its emotions, feelings, sentiments are rooted in one soil – The Bengali family! This is a movie about matters of the heart – your childhood replayed, your family matters discussed, your love for two special persons on Earth, relished. This is  Nandita-Shiboprosad’s return gift to those extraordinary relations of Dadu and Thamma and how they overpower, eventually, every other relation (even that of parents) at the end.

“This is the most regressive case, I have ever seen in my career” – says the lawyer at a point of the movie. Ironically, this movie is all about “being progressive” and its “fake realities” pointed to you one by one. A simple story of grandparents who don’t want to give up their grandchild to his biological parents as they do not believe that they are responsible enough, or will have enough “quality time” to spend with him, out of their “working parents’ schedule”. This takes you for a toss – you switch sides often, but you will never question either side, as who knows, the screen is a mirror maybe. An incredible use of court-room drama with no unnecessary “tarikhs after tarikhs” – there may be no suspense in this court about who wins – Jashoda or Devaki – but there will be a simultaneous pity for modern society, a flooding of emotions for your aged parents or your grandparents, and plentiful of love for the Modern Gopal – who has been left in a choice of either stealing “makhan” (growing up in nature) or playing on a smartphone (in the city or in the UK).

So many actors have graced the industry (including Uttam Kumar) – yet one man, in his eighties, is standing strong there, with his perfect grandfatherly poise and a delicacy of acting touch. Soumitra Chattopadhyaya removes Posto from the realms of a movie to occurrences of everyday realities. You want to hug him, play with him, cuddle him – those who have been blessed by getting a grandpa’s love – will take him to another loving dadu just opposite of the screen. Lily Chakraborty is composed as a grandparent who loves her grandson more than any one else, yet is a mother and knows all about the pains of her sons. Jishu U Sengupta gets back in his grove – though belittled by the presence of Chatterjee, he makes full use of what he gets – the scene where he goes to hit his son for a crime of his own and understands the fault – is acting done brilliantly. Mimi is highly under-utilized and sometimes is barred off screen space even. Yet does, a commendable job. Another veteran, who has remained the pillar of Tollywood – Paran Bandyapadhyaya is as grand as ever.  His awe is magnificent. The little boy as Posto is saved by post shooting techniques, and could have been better in choice – but that flaw can be totally overlooked as he is restless, lovable, cute.
Sohini as the lawyer is over dramatic, and hasn’t been able to leave her stage to the camera. She forgets that this is not theatre. The Music department isn’t great either and the “Home Shanti Home” song is unnecessary and very badly placed.

Nonetheless, this is that once in a year outings with your family, to a place very well known, yet so vivid. The characters are from the next door, yet there is a longing to see them there. This is those once in a year times, when your mother tongue’s sentiments are in full flow. This is those once in a year times, when being a Bengali, really matters. This is the once in a year times, when the best director duo gifts Bengal with a special dish.

Go, enjoy being a Bengali, enjoy what your grandparents have done for you, love your parents more – have this specially made item in a restaurant, I mean cinema, near you. The taste will last long, you will come out fully serving your appetite.
My Rating : 4/5.

Article by : Anish Banerjee.

GALPO HOLEO SOTTI – AN UNCANNY REVELATION

During 1966 Bengali film industry witnessed some milestone movie works. Over the decades, movies like Nayak, Atithi, Galpo holeo Sotti, have still remained as one of the most discussed films around the table. And these genius works preceded some even greater works to appear on silver screen and helped Bengali movies get recognized in a wider scale fraternity.
While Ray created a benchmark with the reels of Nayak, not just a mere story of the name but of fame and the struggle to retain the fame which comes with the name that follows; Galpa Holeo Sotti was a complete contrast with its household comedy. Apparently the movie have been watched over and over again as the story of a family with its deformed inner stress, where out of nowhere a strange young man appears to work as a servant. Throughout the film the identity of this man (Dhononjoy) remains a mystery. And it is to be revealed by the film how this man reforms the family by helping each one of them finding their happiness in togetherness and silently working as their inspiration for fulfillment.
The movie was written and directed by Tapan Sinha, and the major characters were played by famous contemporary actors like Ravi Ghosh(Dhononjoy), Chaya Devi(BoroBou), Prashad Mukhopadhyay(borokhoka), Bhanu Bandhopadhyay(chotokhoka), Chinmoy Roy(thief) etc. this movie stirred such a huge appreciation that later a Bollywood movie Bawarchi(1972) was adopted and produced from this story.
The joint family culture was typical of a Bengali household, and the main theme of the comedy is generated from the mess and internal tension of this Haldar family, where everyone is seen quarrelling over minimalistic things. Each relationship of this family are shown to be highly codependent yet all of them are in complete denial of it.
The segregated condition in each rooms of the house show them being miles away from each other inside this tiny little rooms. They do not have any regard for each other’s profession or beliefs. Their own works are more of a baggage than a responsibility as they fail to understand Dhononjoy’s rendition of Swami Vivekananda- “jar jekhane kaj, sekhanei tar mukti(one’s liberation through his works)”. The family is infested with differences. All of the members are called by their relations like- boro khoka, choto khoka, and baba and so on. Ironically they were too unaware to recognize the weight of the title they were called by. Some may also find the family as the symbolic portrayal of the nation in its socio-economic and political adversities during the post-independence era. But the real excellence of the plot is in showing how the problems and their solutions are closely knit.
From the very first appearance to the very last Dhononjoy emerged in and out from fog, which is fully symbolic of an unconscious mind coming in surface to the conscious mind. As he introduced himself to be coming from an Ashram where they provide happiness and settle a peaceful environment into a family through their service. A tinge of fishiness is added to the atmosphere as Dhononjoy starts working himself into the family revealing a startling side to the story. Apparently Dhononjoy seems as an angel, a working-class representative trying to fit in the conception of Tapan Sinha’s romantic reformist. Thus he prepares food, runs errands and coaxes the family to come together. But if analyzed closely the hue of Dhononjoy’s character can be recognized as an outcome figure of human’s subconscious. As if he came as an angel to grant them boons and filling their interpersonal emotional gaps with his honesty.
Before Dhononjoy’s arrival, no servants could stick with working in this family. They are highly inconsiderate of one’s ability and they pour their own frustration over the household maids. The scene where this one maid is protesting against their ritualistic inability to come to vantage point about her wage may seem pretty comical with all the hassle and bustle but it is a sheer reflection of their middle class moralities. The movie walks us through a marvelous experience of life, keeping us less aware of the fact that this could be a “golpo” (tale) yet “shotti” (truth).
The master screenplay helps to bring out the perfect works of all the legendary actors. It is indeed a startling scene when a child is singing a song, taught by Dhononjoy which says “shukh bole otho shari ghumayona ar … ejibon gele fire ashena abar”(life is only given to you once, wake up don’t stay asleep) and the elderly members are in an awe. One servant has changed their thoughts and beliefs which led come to an inner peace with themselves.
The climax arrives when the family is seen standing beside themselves both literally and metaphorically. The box of jewelry represents their old clinging to material obsession. And the way they toss it from one to another depicts that they have overcome their own shackles of possessiveness. Krishna gains her identity for the very first time. But as Dhononjoy fades away in the fog we are left to question ourselves why is he going? When will he come back? But soon the director proves his genius once again by keeping the man in the khaki as a mouthpiece- “amar ashar ar dorkar-I hobe na”(I don’t need to come back anymore). The renowned famous director Srijit Mukherji perceives the movie as “After Ray, Tapan Sinha is one of my favorite directors especially his music. I think it was a perfectly structured screenplay that was impeccably written.It had a fantastic performance by Rabi Ghosh and it’s the finest example of the road cinema in Bengal. It is story telling at its effortless best.” I watched the movie nearly 50 times and it still is like the first time I watched it. I give the movie 5/5 believing that more people of our generation watch it.

Baahubali 2 : Indian Cinema’s Landmark!

Till today, people who have been in love with Indian cinema and its making, have taken Sholay to be the centre  – We have believed that, that 1975 film changed altogether how we look at cinema, and also how cinema started changing, post Sholay.
But on 28th of April, 2017,  Friday – India have seen something which we have heard stories of, fantasized about and dreamt of – but never hoped to see that re-created in the silver screen in a time space of 167 minutes. If Baahubali had created new standards of the visual spectacle – Baahubali 2, breaks it’s predecessor’s record and sets a benchmark, a new landmark, and a new identity. An identity for all Indians to be a proud of that – that S.S.Rajamouli has created magic and the spell is casted already – this fever is here to stay, this will be a new milestone of Indian Cinema – History has been made.
Rajamouli has kept a whole nation waiting for the eternal question, as it seemed, – “Katappa ne Baahubali ko kyun mara?” – and when the time has come to seek the answer, Oh Boy, he delivers. It is seldom we see sequels do better than the original, but this is not a sequel – this is not a prequel – this is carrying on, from where he left at Baahubali – this time better, bigger, stronger.
I won’t include the story, as that would lead to spoilers, but this scripting has taken a lot of brain work, it seems – the plot’s web is enormous and keeping the spider in the web, without getting strangled by it, is a huge task, and this has just done that. The audience feels at home to both what happened earlier (thanks to a pictorial visual at start) and also to what is happening on the screen space. No place to lose the material. Very well knit together.
The scale on which this movie is set, is tremendous, something the industry and its followers were seeing for the first time, perhaps. If you had been stunned by the set, the VFX, the graphics, the spectacle of Baahubali – you will be awestruck with this one. The sets remain as enormous as they were, with more grandeur added. The action takes a huge leap – the slow motion movements with a hard hitting background score, is surely goosebumps’ stuff. This is an epic, made, and hence everything that happens is neither ordinary, nor from everyday reality – this is fantasy being played with.
The plot sequences may sometimes feel over the top, and quite dreamy, but when you enter the hall, suspend your reality-longing censure, cause this kind of fiction does not need that longing to be afforded for.
Prabhas was a superstar – becomes a mega star. It seems that no-one in the world, could have done this better. Those biceps, as huge as elephant trunks and expressions, very solid makes us worship him. He evades the screen space and as if becomes Baahubali of the History books, if there had to be someone. Prabhas as Shiva, though falters a bit, and a lot of un-necessary screaming there, but Prabhas as Baahubali is magnificent – he lives in the character. Everything so suited to the role.
Anushka Shetty is a delight, both on acting terms and for womanhood as a whole. She is at ease with both emotions and physical strength. She carries a force within her, which makes her irresistible. At times, she snatches the scene from the hero. Tamannah vanishes within 5 minutes of screen time.
Rana Daggubati is the best villain in recent times. That body is to die for and for long, India had been waiting for a negative character, whose punches are stronger than the hero, at times. Sathyaraj as Kattappa and Ramya Krishnan as Sivagami carry their form from where they stopped at the first one.
The whole other cast inhales the script and exhales the perfect amount of finesse – keeping the rather long movie, feel not enough to indulge into – you start longing for more.
Though the songs are not that great, but that background score acts a second fiddle to the action in the cinema – without it, this would have been incomplete and kudos to  M. M. Keeravani for that. The second half rushes a little and the climax is more faster reached, than usual.
On a whole, this is imagination taking shape on the silver screen. This is fantasy blended with myth. This is a rampant visual ecstasy. This is a game changer for the cinematic inertia. This is movie making at its summit – Baahubali 2 will take you to the cliff, through an immense journey of awe – and will push you there to the end – while there will be a sadness for you do not want this to end, there will simultaneously be a joy of reaching the “Conclusion” – This wait, this journey and this arrival has been fantastic. This will be a grand reference to use, for generations to come. Go quickly, seek that answer, enjoy the epic ride – This cannot be missed. The summer has suddenly become warmer.
My rating 4.5/5.