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August 2019

Movie Review: Saaho – DAY 1641

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Migraine Guaranteed

Film: Saaho

Date: 29 August 2019 (India)

Director: Sujeeth

Cast: Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh

Ratings: 1.5 stars

The hero throws his parachute down the hill and then jumps after it but deliberately avoids using it, the only logical explanation is that he wants to show off his sculpted body.  Once he has accomplished that, he grabs the parachute and believe it or not lands straight on the dancing floor! If this sounds bizarre then this is just one of the many, mindless misadventures.

I’m not sure if Prabhas was guided by his PR machinery or it was his own decision but in all his promotion interviews the actor had a 2 point agenda: That Saaho is releasing in 4 languages Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, and Malaylam (good idea) and that it is 350 crore budget (bad idea) because eventually Saaho became about the budget not the content.

The film opens with a long prologue tracking the history of millionaire Roy/ Jackie Shroff leading to a group of villains seated around a rectangle table in a dark room of a plush building discussing 2 lakh crores. It is a room where alarm bells clang every time there is slightest danger.

In another city in a penthouse overlooking a buzzing street, a special cell is preparing to trap a dangerous criminal Jai/ Neil Nitin Mukesh who has been on the run for a long time. So that the audience does not get bored with  mundane details on the criminal, director Sujeeth distracts his audience with a romantic track involving cop Ashok/ Prabhas and his colleague Amritha/ Shradha Kapoor who sing songs dressed in glamorous costumes on exotic locations.

The police are about to nab the culprit but it is time for interval and the villain once again escapes. Post interval we are introduced to Saaho who smiles into the camera and says ‘Showtime begins’ and I hit my forehead and say ‘Migraine time begins’.

While earlier we had speeding cars and bikes firing bullets without reason, now we have giant trucks and helicopters mindlessly firing machine guns.  Nobody is in the least bit alarmed when a bunch of goons invade hotel rooms, smash windows, break doors and shoot people on the spot. Nobody is offended by buildings blown up and cars flung into the sea. It is as if these characters inhabit an alternate world that has nothing to do with reality.

There are stories within stories and sub-plots within plots and everything is so contrived that we are no more certain about who is faithful and who is the enemy, who is the hero and who is the villain? My dear Prabhas, why did you have to do this to us? We loved you and your film Baahubali because your character was convincing and your film engaging. Not because it was a big-budget film!

Everything expensive is not precious and every big-budget film is certainly not a classic and Saaho proves this. Of what use is the lavish production, the exotic locations, the branded costumes, the high-tech action, seductive cinematography/music, and the superstar presence when the end product is so lightweight and does not touch my heart?

Of what use is the mighty 350 crore budget when all I can focus sitting in the cinema hall is the Interval and later The End so that I treat my bursting migraine with a steaming cup of tea.

I rate Saaho with 1.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Obsessed with Money – DAY 1640

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Kishore Kumar never forgave anybody who owed him money. The producer of Bhai Bhai owed him 5000 rupees so every day at the shooting Kumar would do cart wheels screaming ‘5000 rupaiya ’ till he actually rolled out of the sets  without shooting. Another producer owed him 8 thousand, so Kumar would visit his home every morning and shout ‘De de mere 8 hazaar de de’ till the producer got fed up and paid him!


A filmmaker was so fed up of his dramatics that he filed a court case against the actor for not cooperating. Now Kishore Kumar would wait for the smallest instruction from the filmmaker for example he would arrive at the studio but not get out of his car till the director asked him to. One day post a driving scene, the director called ‘Cut’ but forgot to ask him to alight from the car as a result Kishore Kumar drove all the way to Khandala!


A financer was so fed-up of him that he planted an income tax raid at his home to take revenge. Kishore Kumar invited the financer to his home for tea and locked him up inside his cupboard. There is a possibility that many of these stories are exaggerated, we will get to know the truth when Amit Kumar comes out with his father’s biography!





Four Marriages Day 1639

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Much has been written about his controversial marriages. First, with Bengali singer Ruma Devi in 1950 that ended in 1958.  He befriended Madhubala during the shooting of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and Jhumroo and the two got married in 1960.


Madhubala’s father had a precondition that Kishore Kumar must embrace Islam and so Kumar changed his name to Karim Abdul and nobody from Ganguly family attended the nikkah. The couple lived separately post their honeymoon and the marriage dragged till Madhubala died in 1969.


In 1976 Kishoreda married Yogeeta Bali and they parted ways in 1978  in 1980 he met another actress Leena Chandavarkar and lived happily ever after till he died in 1987.



Those who knew Kishore Kumar intimately said he was obsessed with marriage. Those who worked with him said that Kishore Kumar was obsessed with money.


To be continued


One Singer Many Voices – Day 1638

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It is said that when Salil Choudhary was composing for Half Ticket he had confirmed Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar for the duet ‘Aake seedhi lagi dil pe’ but close to the recording Lata Mangeshkar was out of Bombay for a few days and the producer was in a sudden hurry to record the song.  He put pressures on Salil Choudhary and the music director was in a fix.

That’s when Kishore Kumar came up with an idea; Kumar suggested that he would render the duet in both the male and the female voice. The director loved the suggestion because the situation of the song also was out of ordinary where actors Pran and Kishore Kumar are disguised as women and dancing on stage to escape the villains.

Kishore Kumar recorded the two versions and the producer and the director loved it. Salil Choudhary loved it too but was worried how Lata Mangeshkar would react to it. Mangeshkar returned from her trip and was informed about the change. She was curious to hear the rendition and loved it too, so all were happy and the song became a super hit.

To be continued


The Khandwa Guy- DAY 1637

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Kishore Kumar has sung in every Indian language and honored with innumerable awards which include 8 Filmfare awards and a special Lata Mangeshkar trophy.

Born in Khandwa, the Madhya Pradesh government instituted a special award in his memory after his demise that continues till today.  His last song was sold at an auction for 1.56 million. He was a rare talent, not just a brilliant singer but an energetic actor, competent composer, crazy writer, and director.

This week’s blog is not about Kishore Kumar’s supreme talent or success but about his eccentricities. All artistes are slightly eccentric but Kishore Kumar’s idiosyncrasies often bordered on self-indulgence which in retrospect sounds entertaining but was exasperating for the person on the receiving end.

Wait for a day for me to fill you with details on the genius who drove the film world round the bend.


Documenting Baba – DAY 1636

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Amit Kumar, legendary singer Kishore Kumar’s son appeared on Kapil Sharma show and proclaimed that he was writing a book on his father from a son’s perspective. He said that there so many stories associated with his father that the w a single book on him may not do justice to his genius and will have to include the entire family and their stories as well.

According to Amit Kumar what made his Baba different from other actors was that while other actors worked for entertainment, his baba was 24 X 7 walkie-talkie entertainer.  And which is why on Kishore Kumar’s birthday and death anniversary the media has much to celebrate via his songs and eccentric stories from the past.

Over the next few days I will be sharing anecdotes of the versatile singer who was also a composer and a filmmaker.


Movie Review: Mission Mangal Day 1635

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Film: Mission Mangal

Date: 15.08.2019

Director: Jagan Shakti

Writers: RBalki, JShakti, Nidhi Sen Dharma, Saket Kondiparthi

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Taapsee Pannu,Nithiya Menen, Sharman Joshi, Kirti Kulhari, Dattetreya, Sanjay Kapoor.


Tara Shinde/ Vidya Balan is upset that the maid has taken off on her important day and rushes through her household chores to make it on time to ISRO, her workplace. Today is the GLSV launch but unfortunately, it does not take off partly due to Tara’s error of judgment. Team leader Rakesh Dhawan/ Akshay Kumar assumes responsibility for the project failure and is shunted to another project/ Mars Mission which everyone knows will never take off. Tara is heavy-hearted about the turn of events and finds a solution to the problem believe it or not while frying puris on the gas stove.

Mission Mangal is the inspiring story of India’s first Mars Mission, Mangalayan launched in 2013 and executed by a group of unlikely scientists. R Balki is credited as the writer -creative director of the film and you can sense his detailing in defining the various characters.

Team leader Akshay Kumar hums film songs under duress, eats sweets to celebrate failure and is refreshingly dramatic when being sarcastic. His colleague Vidya Balan is passionate about her work and unapologetic about it to her forever grumbling husband/ Sanjay Kapoor.

Together, Akshay and Vidya build a team of inexperienced scientists which includes an ambitious Eka Gandhi/ Sonakshi Sinha whose ultimate goal is NASA, a virgin Parmeshwar/ Sharaman Joshi obsessed with horoscope, a semi-retired Ananth Iyer/ Dattatreya and three more, Tapasee Pannu, Nithiya Menen, and Kirti Kulhari.

With so many characters it is not possible to do justice to all; still Sonakshi Sinha, Sharman Joshi, and Dattatreya make a mark. It is refreshing to watch the lead pair involved in a dream rather than with each other. Akshay Kumar takes a while to grow on you as he cracks bad jokes, jumps over the tables and makes fictitious calls to the ex-President but eventually, he wins you over by not hogging screen space. Vidya inhabits Tara’s home-heart and brain and is as real attending to domestic chores as executing the satellite journey from earth to Mars.

There are minor flaws, some characters are under sketched and saris for the women characters are not color and character-specific. I also disagree with the humor in reference to sex and weight but overlook the lapses for the nail-biting climax and the message.

Mission Mangal is about accomplishing the impossible; about changing mindsets, dreaming big and most important, pride for the country. As characters wrestle for physical and mental space, you navigate through by-lanes of past/ present soaked in marital anxieties, parental pressures, neglect of the senior and guilt of not bearing a child and are privy to naked ambition.
There is a paradigm shift in gender gaze that reflects a changing India.

I rate Mission Mangal with 4 stars.


Watch the review:

Bhawanaa Somaaya



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Shabana Azmi signs Spielberg’s 9 part web series Halo directed by Otto Bathurst. ( Robin Hood)
Halo is one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, having sold more than 77 million copies since its initial release in 2001. The series comes from Showtime, Amblin Television and Microsoft.
Halo, which Showtime has described as its “most ambitious series ever,” is set to begin production in Budapest in the fall.
Natascha McElhone, Shabana Azmi Bokeem Woodbine, Bentley Kalu, Natasha Culzac and Kate Kennedy — have signed on to the drama based on the mega-popular video game franchise, which will dramatize the conflict between humanity and an alien race known as the Covenant in the 26th century.

Pablo Schreiber,plays the iconic Master Chief role.

McElhone (Designated Survivor, Californication) will play Cortana, the most advanced AI in human history who may be the key to the survival of the human race.

Acclaimed Indian actress Azmi will play Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the head of the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Emmy nominee Woodbine (Fargo, Spider-Man: Homecoming) plays Soren-066, a morally complex privateer at the fringes of civilization.

Says a visibly pleased Shabana, “It can’t get bigger than this! Asian actors have been fighting for color-blind casting for years .. finally, its become a reality! This is completely new territory for me – I’m both excited and nervous which is a good place to be in “

Ask how she bagged the part she replies, “ It just fell into my lap! I had to give up on 2 projects I was scheduled to do here but I figured it would be worth it”.