Monthly Archives

September 2017

Chef Dad (Day 1179)

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Often it is the trailer that determines how a film is going to be received by the audience and Saif Ali Khan’s trailer of Raja Krishna Menon’s Chef seems to have struck the right chord for two reasons. This is the first time we are exposed to Saif’s culinary skills and this is also the first time we are exposed to Saif as a contemporary Dad! Designer Raja have taken special effort to work on the nawab’s costumes to present him in the easy-going style when he is at work or spending quality time with his son on holidays. “My brief was to present Roshan Karla/ Saif Ali Khan as a new age cool dad and that is how you will find him.”

Now this is one film Taimur Khan would love to watch when he grows up.



8th Jagran Festival (Day 1178)

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Tapsee Pannu was a big hit at the Jagran Festival this year. Over 130 movie titles scheduled for screening, to facilitate cross-cultural understanding and crowd intimacy through the wide world of cinema.


The 2017 edition of Jagran Film Festival traversed from Delhi to the Indian hinterlands of Kanpur, Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Dehradun, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bhopal, Indore, Hisar, Ludhiana, Meerut, Raipur, and will now culminate in Mumbai.


Screening World Cinemas featuring from Turkey, India, Greece, US, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Morocco, Spain, Sri Lanka, Czech and more. The festival showcased the best of regional cinema including Amraawati, Rama Rama Re and Bengali movies – Messi and Posto, Chandras Chor and more.



Movie review: Lucknow Central is inspiring (Day 1177)

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Film: Lucknow Central

Date: 15 September 2017

Director: Ranjit Tiwari

Writer: Ranjit Tiwari, Aseem Arora 

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Diana Penty, Deepak Dobriyal, Ronit Roy, Rajesh Sharma


Lucknow Central opens in a barsati in Muraadaabad where a sleepy Kishen Gairhotra/ Farhan Akhtar composing notes in his dreams. He is an aspiring musician and has ambitions of creating his own band someday.

He is close to his goal when he attends a concert of a superstar but an altercation and an outburst with a minister turns into an ugly revenge where Kishen is accused of murder and locked inside the prison.

All appeals fall on deaf ears and Kishen now referred to as 1821 is transferred to Central Lucknow Jail awaiting a death sentence where he meets the sensitive NGO worker Gayatri Kashyap/ Diana Penty assigned to form a Band in the prison for a concert scheduled at the Lucknow Jail.

Kishen volunteers to form the band though it is not easy to win the trust of his colleagues but he succeeds eventually and they are committed to rehearsals and a secret plan of escape!

There are many perspectives to Lucknow Central. You can view it as a reflection of Uttar Pradesh’s socio-political conditions, a statement on our legal and judiciary system, a glimpse of what’s happening inside our jails and how to reform prisoners or as a simple story of dreams and the struggle to make them come true.What works in favor of the film are the refreshing music, sharp editing, conflicting climax, affable characters and inspiring message. The negative, if it can be called a downside is that it is one location centric but the engaging narrative and the ensemble performances more than make up for it.

Ronit Roy as the jailor and Ravi Kissen as the minister are effective. Farhan Akhtar plays Kishen Girhotra with an innocence and sincerity that is touching. Some scenes stay with you after the film is over.  A beaming Farhan on a sewing machine and the midnight group performance before the jailor are magical moments!

What’s attractive about the film is that though it is a story of prison inmates but it is far more depressing. The characters are largely criminals but the message is positive!! Yes there are atrocities inside the prison but hope is still alive and the conscience still ticking.

In the film, the hero’s father says Justice is granted to no one, there is just good luck and bad luck and after Lucknow Central good luck is definitely on the side of director Ranjit Tiwari.

I rate Central Lucknow with 3.5 stars.






Movie Review: Simran is disappointing (Day 1176)

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Film: Simran

Date: 15 September 2017

Director:  Hansal Mehta

Writer: Apurva Asrani

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Soham Shah, Esha Tewari Pande, Aneesha Joshi

Music: Sachin-Jigar


For the past few weeks Kangana Ranaut and the team of Simran have been promoting the film as a refreshing tale of an emancipated single woman who lives life on her terms. Director Hansal Mehta’s protagonist Praful Patel 30 and divorcee has a house-keeping job with a premium hotel and lives with her parents in Atlanta.

As the film progresses you discover that Praful is far from responsible and makes no contribution to household expenses. Senior Patel is frustrated with his daughter who makes no effort to pursue a degree, find better job placement or agree to alliance brought by the parents for marriage.

Praful’s friend Ambar is getting married and takes Praful with her for a holiday to Las Vegas and the holiday changes Praful’s life.

The first half of the film introduces us to Praful’s parents and colleagues which is a replay of Queen without any new insights. The second half travels you into Praful’s complex world where problems multiply rapidly without solutions.

In my opinion, the biggest flaw in the film is a character flaw.  Simran is thoughtless, reckless and fails to arouse any affection/ compassion from her viewers in fact by the end of the film I’m angry with her self-absorption.

While I understand that all kinds of people exist in the universe and Simran is inspired from a jail serving NRI Supreet Kaur based in America, I fail to comprehend how her story can serve any purpose because the message director Hansal Mehta imparts is that it if you don’t have the money, steal it!

For the past few weeks, the team has been promoting Simran as a woman empowerment film! If drinking/ gambling/ deceiving/ looting banks is about empowerment then I think we need to look up the dictionary for the real meaning.

The only positives about Simran are Sachin-Jigar’s music, cinematography, and the exotic locations. Kangana Ranaut is without dispute a magnificent actor but it is difficult to appreciate a performance when the character fails to connect with you.


I rate Simran with 2 stars.



Single and Happy Simran (Day 1175)

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Kangana Ranaut’s Praful Patel in Simran, is the story of a girl who navigates through family, conservatism, expectations, love, crime, and redemption. The 1995’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge Simran was a tradition-bound girl hankering to break free. The new-age Simran is a natural of sorts and follows her heart. The interesting bit about her character is that it brings the Gujarati community once again into focus. Just a few weeks ago Harry met Sejal told about a progressive Gujarati girl and her nonconservative diamond business family. This time Praful is past her prime but happy and rearing to g.

Shot in Atlanta, USA and directed by Hansal Mehta who served us the sensitive Citylights a few years ago the actor director had a lot of fun shooting and trying out different eateries ranging from Local Southern/ Mexican/Italian/ Pan Asian to Gujarati thaali. Says the filmmaker “I love food as I believe it is the secret to happiness! In my opinion, it is the only way to de-stress and I indulge in it as often as I can.

Hansal Mehta and Kangana RanautProduced by Bhushan Kumar and Shailesh R Singh Simran is set to release on 15 September 2017 and going by the promotions and the trailer I will not be surprised if we have another Queen in the making.


Thor: Ragnarok (Day 1174)

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Directed by Taika Waititi and starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Thor: Ragnarok has an impressive star cast including Anthony Hopkins. Marvel Studios latest presentation is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!  Thor: Ragnarok thunders into theaters on 3rd November. If you have been a fan of this genre of movies get ready for a delightful experience this festival season.


Sarat Chandra again (Day 1173)

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What is it about Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic Srikanto that we never tire of it? Director Akash Khurana will be revisiting the classic in the name of Under The Gypsy Moon and the play will premiere at St. Andrews Auditorium on September 30 and October 1.

The play is the sixth of seven plays to be staged under the Aditya Birla Group’s Aadyam banner this year. Sarat Chandra’s original is considered the first modern Indian novel, which set the precedent for socially conscious writing in modern Indian literature. No wonder then, it is also considered the writer’s masterpiece.

Under the Gypsy Moon PS1The protagonist in the play is a nomad, who believes that every new experience enriches him and does not want to be bound by relationships. He represents the quintessential man in search of the true meaning of life. In this journey, he encounters diametrically opposite women who believe that he is their savior but Srikanta is not drawn to permanence.

The director reveals that he has always felt an affinity towards Bengali literature and every writer is sometime or the other inspired by Sarat Chandra. “His characters are so and I have maintained the tone for the narrative”.

Under the Gypsy Moon is a penetrating analysis of Srikanta and his women and also the life and culture of Bengal pre Independence, commenting on gender, religion, and morality that resonate even today. The best thing about the play is that it comments on social setups where protagonist Srikanto is also the spectator.

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50 Shades of Black & Grey for Anil Kapoor in Fanney Khan! (Day 1172)

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MUMBAI; 10th September 2017: Anil Kapoor who has time and again set an exemplary example of reinventing himself despite his superstardom, now steps into the shoes of an aspiring musician in KriArj Entertainment & Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Fanney Khan.

While the star has everyone intrigued with his new look in the film, what very few know is that it took over 50 hours to finalize his salt-pepper look in the film.

Anil Kapoor went all out to get his look just right for Fanney Khan and after several creative discussions with the makers of the film finally zeroed in on the look. The star visited a popular salon in the suburbs for 5 days at a stretch, clocking in over 10 hours each day to work just on his hair.

Since Anil Kapoor had to essay the role of the lovably flawed and rough around the edges Fanney Khan, the star also had to go lean for his look. What’s more is that since he recently suffered from an ankle injury, he had to incorporate alternative forms of workouts into his regular fitness regime and took over 4 weeks to achieve the desired results.

All praise for the superstar says producer Arjun N.Kapoor, ” Anil Kapoor plays a character who celebrates the extraordinary in the ordinary and hence looking the part was extremely crucial. He managed to pull it off beautifully and continues to inspire all of us with his dedication and passion”.

Bhushan Kumar says, “Anil Kapoor is an actor par excellence who gives his 200 percent to any character he portrays. The love and passion he has for films are visible in the time he has invested to get his look right and the dedication he has shown to get the perfect physique.”





Movie Review: Arjun Rampal excels as Daddy (Day 1171)

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Producer: Arjun Rampal, Rutvij Patel

Director: Ashim Ahluwalia

Writer: Ashim Ahluwalia, Arjun Rampal

Music: Sajid–Wajid

Starring: Arjun Rampal, Aishwarya Rajesh, Nishikant Kamat, Farhan Akhtar


Daddy is the story of how a mill shut down in the in Central Mumbai in the 70s destroyed the lives of the daily wagers and their families and among them is Arun Gulab Gawli/ Arjun Rampal. When Arun arrives at the mill to deliver his father’s tiffin and is prohibited, he gets into an altercation with the supervisor and strikes him hard with his tiffin box.

It is the first expression of accumulated frustration festering within Arun and his friends who spend all day playing carom and chatting about neighbors. They desperately need a source of livelihood and are introduced to gambling popularly referred to as matka but short cuts come with a baggage and when one of them is murdered, they decide to take revenge and become serious criminals.

Babu, Rama and Arun discover they are a gang when they are summoned by bhai/ Farhan Akhtar’s trusted aide for a supari. The mission is accomplished but Arun gets arrested and set free the same night on bhai’s behest. The first half tells about Gawli’s growth as a don and the second half of his transforming into a messiah popularly referred to as Daddy.

First thing first, the film endorses it is a true story and maintains name and location of the characters. From Dagdi chawl and Dongri in the 70s to Rajya Sabha in 2000 Daddy travels four decades and presents the changing face of Bombay to Mumbai when vehicles were smaller and roads broader, when phone dials rotated and TV sets came out of a box, when youngsters wore long hair and state police dressed in ink uniforms.

The positives of the film are the detailed production design dotting the crowded gullies and the gang operating from dingy caves. Adding mystery to the plot are the characters, their authentic locations/ costumes, music, language and deliberately dry narrative. Co-written by Ashim and Arjun Rampal Arun Gawli is portrayed without apologies or justification and with all his flaws including his addiction.

The negatives are the excessive violence, the suffocating dim lighting and inaudible, mumbled dialogues. The film appears longer than it is because it is heavy in content without any trappings of comedy or dance. Some films are designed for entertainment, some to deliver the message, Daddy is to acquaint you with the protagonist who is a victim of his circumstances.

In my opinion, there are three reasons for watching Daddy. It stars two remarkable filmmakers, Nishikant Kamath and Farhan Akhtar as a cop and criminal and both do a super job! Arjun Rampal debuts as co-writer and finally post Rock On, Daddy is Arjun Rampal’s best performance of his career.

I rate Daddy with 3 stars.


Ganesha bids goodbye (Day 1170)

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As the day of his departure gets closer you are not the only one who is sad. The deity is as depressed about leaving you… On the final day after the final aarti the idol is carried around the house to ensure that he blesses every nook and corner, at the door every family member whispers his wish to him and has faith that he will fulfill them the following year.

ganesh-immersions_650x400_81473937059There is one more aarti at the spot of visarjan after which Ganpati accompanied by his potli of wishes is immersed inside the pond. Here are some of the unforgettable images…. You always feel heavy hearted when you return home after immersing the deity into the sea. His august presence is strongly missed but that is life and Lord Ganpati teaches you that life must go on…