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December 2018

Movie Review: Simmba Day 1499

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Film: Simmba

Date: 28.12.2018

Director: Rohit Shetty

Writer: Vakkantham Varnsi

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Sara Ali Khan, Sonu Sood, Ashutosh Rana

For eight years now Rohit Shetty has been serving us Singham stories and the action-comedy drama has been working every single time at the box-office. Starting with Singham/ 2011, Singham 2/ 2013 and Singham Returns/ 2014 filmmaker Rohit Shetty is ready with the fourth series Simmba.

In my opinion, there are four reasons for watching SIMMBA inspired by the Telegu film Temper.

  1. It is a typical Rohit Shetty film and yet, it is different. It packages the right punches and laughter, does a quick recap of the prequel and moves on to dramatically introduce Ranveer Singh as Sangram Simmba Bhalerao who bursts on the screen riding a motorbike, jumping, dancing and splashing water all over the streets.

What is not like a Rohit Shetty film is that 30 minutes into the narrative and you realize that the director is on a different route this time – a more inward journey that includes emotional pauses, social responsibilities, and new challenges.

  1. The script and the dialogues. While we are accustomed to fancy cars getting blown up in air and criminals bruised and beaten in a Rohit Shetty film, this time the script and the dialogues are outrageously hilarious.

There is madness in the surrounding and the madness has a method evident in character sketches and their dialect. There’s and not a dull moment in the film and more, what unfolds makes a lot of sense!!

  1. The film addresses issues. So far Rohit Shetty films have been about vendetta, about good triumphing over evil. This time Shetty extends his boundaries and sensitizes to multiple issues like street children and drug abuse. Like in his earlier films he hits out at corruption in the police force but also holds a mirror to cowardice in society.

Surprisingly Simmba is acutely gendered sensitive and makes a gallant effort to include female gaze and voice in the story. The judge, the female cops have a significant presence. When addressing rape the film gets into statistics, seeks opinion of the victim, potential victim and family. It condemns men but also women for breeding/ shielding such mindset.

  1. Performances – Ashutosh Rana as Head Constable and Sonu Sood as Vikrant Kadamb are convincing. Sara Ali Khan, unfortunately, is underutilized and Ajay Devgn in a brief appearance makes an impact. Ranveer Singh effectively and enthusiastically absorbs the madness and mission of Sangram Bhalerao. It is not just about his swagger, aura, energy or the comic timing but also about his innocence and how he grips the audience.

So is there nothing wrong in the film – of course, there is plenty to complain. The opening sequence is overstated and overstretched. The second half is devoid of humor. The film is based in Goa but when it is time for songs the lead pair romance in foreign locations and lip sync to Punjabi lyrics.  Sara Ali Khan goes invisible in the second half and so does Sangram Bhalerao’s Marathi dialect but all this is forgiven because the film has its heart in place.


In the olden days, Manmohan Desai made entertaining films and quietly slipped in a message into it. Rohit Shetty is slowly getting there.  I have never been a fan of Shetty films but this time I make an exception.

And I rate the intelligent and highly entertaining Simmba with 4 stars, Singh and Shetty you may take a bow.


Bhawana Somaaya

Preparing for an epic (Day 1498)

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For more than a year now the actor is committed to Manikarnika – the Queen of Jhansi based on the life of the fearless warrior Rani Laxmi Bai.

Zee Studios’ and Kamal Jain’s film showcases Rani Laxmi Bai’s extraordinary journey and features some of the best action/war sequences that will be witnessed in Indian cinema. From a massive crew, real weapons from 1857 to heavy armory mixed with hi-octane stunts – the film offers a true visual spectacle for the audience.

Nick Powell, the well-known international action director auditioned over 1000 fighters for the action sequences in the film. From which, he chose the best two hundred for training. Once these two hundred were trained, they further trained two more hundred. Not just that, even the horses used in the film were trained for the action scenes. The entire crew trained for about 4 months to prepare for the epic war scenes in the film.

Kangana Ranaut who plays the protagonist uses two types of real, authentic weapons used in 1857—cap-lock pistols (one shot pistols) and cavalry brown Bess (muzzle loading rifles).

Talking about the action in the film Kangana says, “Rifles were new for people at that time, and only a few used them. While the British army used Enfield rifles, Rani Lakshmi Bai preferred swords. I was fascinated that we have used the same authentic weapons in our film that were used more than 200 years ago during the1857 battle. The action sequences were quite intense but that did not deter anyone from giving their best.

“The shield I wore in the battle scenes weighed about 5 kilos but we got used to dressing heavy. The process was long and tedious but it was all about discipline. The entire team was scheduled to wake up at 2 am with a wakeup call and arrive on the sets at 3am. The makeup-hair-costume and rehearsals together would take about 6 hours so we would begin shooting at about 10/11 all the scenes were so elaborate with so many warriors and animals that we could barely complete a scene a day.

“And next day we were back to the same schedule that is wake up at midnight and report on sets at dawn. It has been tremendous hard work and after this film is complete the entire film needs a long, leisurely holiday for sure.



A filmmaker & an Actor (Day 1497)

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Prakash Jha has given us many memorable movies as a filmmaker and even displayed his talent as an actor in Priyanka Chopra starrer Jai Gangaajal. Now Jha has taken over the screen as a protagonist for a short film titled, Justaju – The longing. The film addresses urban loneliness, a common problem in metropolis where everybody is busy and has no time for relationships.


Starring the beautiful Sarika star as the lead the film is written and directed by Mudassir Mashalkar. Says Jha ” I was quiet surprised when Mudassir approached me with this script, initially I thought maybe he wanted me to produce it but was surprised when he said he wanted me to play the hero. I was surprised because I have  nothing in common with the character Valmiki. Yes, I am intrigued by him, drawn to him and curious to delve deeper into the psyche of this lonely man.  I had questions about him and Mudasar had all the answers. He was very clear on the plot and how he wanted to shoot it which was a big help because the actor is reassured when the director is confident. The shooting experience was just as enjoyable and would love to explore more such interesting characters in the future as I love and enjoy acting.”





Green Gold of Chotta Bheem (Day 1496)

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Japan’s leading private broadcaster TV Asahi and its animation production arm ShineiAnimation teams up with India’s animation studio Green Gold Animation to create all-new episodes of Ninja Hattori, the ever popular action comedy animation franchise running over 3 decades with a large number of followers in Japan, India, and countries worldwide.

Shin-ei’s experienced team of writers and directors, in collaboration with Green Gold animation studios expert team of animators, is creating the new Ninja Hattori episodes in 2D-HD through a digitally mastered process.

Says Takahiro Kishimoto, Head of Animation at International Business Department and Entertainment Division of TV Asahi, comments “This collaboration with Green Gold better known as the creator of the hit franchise Chhota Bheem will be another step forward for our business development in India”. A record of 1200+ employees work on the art facilities to deliver production requirements and with a record of over 24000 minutes of content produced Green Gold is the last word in digital animation tools globally.




Maharaja of Mastipur (Day 1495)

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The Maharaja of Mastipur is not the regular king; this one is vibrant, energetic, and interactive and loves to play pranks on his subjects.

A theatre is a revered space for expression through storytelling. Storytellers generally use this space to deliver solemn messages clothed in genres covering the full range from comedy to tragedy. Guppy Theatre celebrates the space to break stereotypes in a different style and also expression.

Puppetry as an art form is about drama, but also a metaphor and abstraction. Nothing is entirely defined or real in the puppet world, which creates a safe and fantastical space that is also tactile and kinesthetic. Says Anurupa Roy, director of the show, “Unlike other puppet shows the puppeteer in our show is not hidden. In fact, the puppet and the puppeteer often become actors in the story – a meta-fictive approach that makes, not just the story but, the process of storytelling come to life. Rather than a single screen, the show features a dynamic stage with multiple projections on multiple shadow screens. The puppeteers wear large masks that increase their stage presence and help make their characters more engaging.”


Movie Review: Zero (Day 1494)

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Zero is a letdown

Film : Zero
Release: 21 December 2018
Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif
Writer: Himanshu Sharma
Music: Ajay- Atul

Dear Anand Rai

I watched your film last night and was unable to sleep because I failed to fathom the story and all the characters. Since you and your writer Himanshu Sharma have lived with the idea for many months now, may I request you to enlighten me on these queries

1. Granted that there are all kinds of people in the world but is it fair to combine a vertically challenged Bauua Singh/ Shah Rukh Khan, a cerebral palsy scientist Aafia Bhinder/ Anushka Sharma and an emotionally unstable superstar Babita/ Katrina Kaif in one film together? And was it necessary to portray even Bauua Singh’s best friend as partially blind who keeps flashing torch on people’s faces all the time?

2. It is admirable that Bauua Singh is super confident despite his compelling circumstances but unconvincing why he is such a big hero in the mohallah? Is it because he throws notes from the balcony? Also where does all that excess money come from considering Bauua is unemployed and the family far from affluent!

3. Why would a qualified NRI scientist with no roots in India register with a small town marriage bureau when she has infinite options to find a partner on the net? Therefore Bauua’s meeting with the scientist in her workplace and dancing to film songs there is not just an extreme exaggeration but also an embarrassment!

4. Bauua Singh changes coats/ hats, adds roses and bows to his black and white suits like he owns a boutique! He downs martini shots and organizes a private symphony concert outside his beloved’s door like he is a mafia. How come he accomplishes this with so much ease, without the slightest awkwardness of being first time in opulent surroundings?

5. In Mumbai city Bauua Singh shines at the dance competition unfazed by the mighty Salman Khan and renowned choreographers. Isn’t it odd that superstar Babita/ Katrina Kaif at a celebration party attended by glittering stars singles out an unknown contestant for intimate company!

The actors trusted you Anand Rai, but your projection of the complex characters failed to evoke any empathy. Katrina Kaif is over the top and Anushka Sharma for the first time misses the mark. Shah Rukh Khan’s Bauua is spirited and spunky but poorly let down by the script!

You said your film was about the magic of incompleteness – but one saw just flashes of this- like when the stars at a mere count of numbers fall from the sky. And when they don’t, it is because the hero has broken a heart!

Dear Anand Rai you have broken many hearts with this film, mine included.

I rate Zero with 2 stars and both are for Shah Rukh Khan for making an effort to do something different so what if it didn’t work out.

Watch the review:

Bhawana Somaaya

Mary Poppins Returns (Day 1493)

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Mary Poppins Returns has been receiving glowing reviews from everyone who has seen it and the film will hit theaters on 4th January 2019 in India. It’s the perfect holiday treat!

Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn an ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure. In this all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss.

For the European premiere of Mary Poppins Returns Blunt 35, was the picture of elegance as she posed for photographers outside the Royal Albert Hall in London. She was joined at the event by her co-stars, including Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer and Colin Firth.

A Critical Mind Part iv (Day 1516)

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Tell us more such stories?

The stories are made by the superstars. Their aura fills their followers with pride and love.

When Khuda Gawah was released and Amitabh Bachchan made an entry riding a horse, his arms out stretched out, a young girl ran from her seat to the screen her arms outstretched to embrace the actor on screen. The audience did not laugh at her, they applauded.

If you were stuck in a lift, who would you rather be stuck with: a director/ actor/ writer whose film you just panned

Why would I tell you and how do you know this has not happened to me!!

You know I don’t view it like that – who am I to pan somebody? I opine on what I agree/ disagree and they are at liberty to agree/ disagree with my critique. At the end of the day, it is a job and I am paid for it. I cannot be unfaithful to my job.


A movie watching experience that left you scarred for days after?

Sometimes a critic is not feeling well, not in a mood and has to go through unbearable films. Ram Gopal Verma’s Rakhtcharitra Part 1& 2 happened on such bad days for me. RGV says both these films are grossers but I found them unbearable in fact I still wakeup from my sleep thinking why I had to go through both these movies. I could have preserved my eyes/ brain and said no to review these films.




A Critical Mind Part iii (Day 1515)

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Which is the film you’ve watched most number of times?

I can watch Pakeezah again and again and every time I discover new facets to it, I think it is the most lyrical Hindi film in my experience. It is like the title suggests –pristine!


Between Popcorn and the Samosa, who wins with you in movies?

Hate both, none of them for me, hate Pepsi too or any aerated drinks. In the good old days they served adrak chai that was the best, in present times I prefer plain water and some nuts from my bag.  Now that home snacks are allowed inside theatres I often carry dhokla or thepla and quietly eat them when the hunger pangs summon.


What has been your craziest single screen experience? 

Single screen experience is as real as it gets – I love the claps and the whistles when the superstar makes entry on screen.  When they disapprove there are cat calls too and when they get overboard they throw coins! They are united in collective reaction and you cannot predict them. In the 70s when Deewar was released the lights went out just before the climax but the audience sat quietly for 30 minutes till the lights came on and the started again.


To be continued


A Critical Mind Part ii (Day 1514)

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How long do you take to write a review on an average? 

It depends, sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes it drags but a satisfactory review with all the markings, fact checking and corrections usually takes about 2 hours.


What is the maximum number of films you’ve had to review in a day?

I have consciously refrained from reviewing more than 2 films a day because I don’t believe in punishing myself. In my younger days however at film festivals I have watched 4 sometimes even 5 films a day. The eyes ached and the heart was overflowing with emotions but one continued to watch films because you were scared you will miss out on a good film. Not any longer, now I am more self -preserving.


Do you know how many films you’ve reviewed till date? 

No, I am not so vain to count my work. My mother taught me that if you count your money Goddess Lakshmi goes away so I don’t count reviews/ columns for I don’t want Goddess Saraswati to desert me. But I count my books and I want to write more and more…


What is the weirdest feedback you’ve received for your reviews?

You know, I have never received weird or even negative feedback for my reviews, I know it sounds immodest but most of the time people tell me they agree with my review even when I am not flattering to the filmmaker.


To be continued