Another film on ragging (Day 1557)

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Bejoy Nambiar has in a very short time carved a niche for himself in the Hindi entertainment industry. The audience loved his Shaitan, heaped praises on David and celebrated Wazir but not man know that he went through his share of struggle and hardships before he found his voice to make the kind of films he does.

A blast from the past reveals that when Nambiar was pursuing his engineering, he became a victim of a severe ragging incident that left a deep impact on his personality. Now so many years later, the filmmaker is showcasing that experience in the short movie titled, Bully, on Eros Now’s latest original series, Flip.

Bully is one of the short stories in the drama-thriller anthology that delivers a strong message and keeps the audiences engrossed. Ranvir Shorey plays the lead role in the short movie. Bejoy Nambiar amidst that the incident was traumatic and to avoid being haunted by negative thoughts, he started writing stories. Bully is a true story.


Avengers: Endgame (Day 1556)

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We are living in the times of franchises and the more the merrier. Everyone is happy with a franchise because the brand is established and the ratio of success is high. So who is the king of the game, well not very difficult to guess?

The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in Marvel Studios’ grand conclusion to twenty-two films, Avengers: Endgame.

The movie releases in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, wow!


Artificial Intelligence (Day 1555)

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Population Foundation of India’s popular edutainment show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon is the first Indian television show to use an Artificial Intelligence powered Chatbot as a means to reach out to young viewers.

The Dr. Sneha chatbot tells about a young doctor, who leaves behind her lucrative career in Mumbai to work in her village and work for the healthcare of women. Director Poonam Muttreja of Population First says, “Through Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon we find innovative ways of reaching out to larger audience segments. Though young people have greater access to information through digital media, many of them are not able to discuss their needs or queries about sexual and reproductive health. Our chatbot allows youngsters to talk about their concerns.”

Noted director Feroz Abbas Khan also involved with the making of the chatbot says it is about instant interactivity.


Dumbo or Junglee (Day 1554)

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In the olden days on the first of April tabloids carried breaking news and denied it the following day as an April fool joke. I have never been a sucker for such stories and prefer to treat the date as a normal day, so this column is devoted to how elephants are the flavor of the season. Junglee Pictures distributed Save Elephant T-shirts before the release of Junglee and now Walt Disney is looking at ways to get our eyeballs.

Disney’s Dumbo is releasing on 29th March and while everyone remembers the story where differences are celebrated, Disney thought of a novel way to present Dumbo the flying elephant.

They invited Varun Dhawan to meet the endearing baby elephant!

Nobody asked me but I had a better idea. They should have asked Viddyut Jamwal and his two elephants, Bhola and Didi to join the Dumbo party with Varun Dhawan. That would be the real story.


Movie Review: Notebook

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Film: Notebook

Date: 30.03.2019

Director: Nitin Kakkar

Producer: Salman Khan, Murad Khetani, Ashwin Varde

Cast: Zaheer Iqbal, Pranutan Bahl

Ratings: 2 stars


It is commendable that Salman Khan is willing to stake projects on newcomers and his latest Notebook an adaptation of foreign film 2014 Teacher’s Diary is an artistic choice clearly not targeted for the box-office. I appreciate that.


Teacher’s Diary was highly popular in the festival circuit and there is a possibility that Notebook will follow the same path but that is not the point. The point is that you choose to go against the tide and make a film that is not the flavor of the season.


So Notebook tells the story of a teacher, Kabir Sir/ Zaheer Iqbal, who has quit the army and his home in the metropolis to live on a lonely houseboat in the valley and teach small children. Early evening when the children return home, nobody drops by at the houseboat except the setting sun and the rising moon.

It is not easy to survive in the wilderness without electricity/gas/telephone connection and Kabir is delighted when he discover a diary left behind in the desk drawer by the school’s previous teacher, Firdaus.

He reads the diary every night and finds solace in her outpourings and identifies with her loneliness and unwittingly begins to jot his feelings in the same diary.

Kabir has fallen in love with a woman he has never met and probably never will but he has hope.

The merits of the film are the story, the beautiful valley; the bunch of energetic kids and the lead pair even though they don’t have many scenes together.

The demerits are the screenplay and the immensely slow pace. The beauteous ambiance and the interesting characters fail to progress the story. There is intrigue but no plot.

Lead pair Zaheer Iqbal aur Pranutan Bahl are sparkling and it doesn’t seem like it is their debut performance. Must you watch Notebook? Well if you are a sucker for old world romance and believe in hope then most certainly yes but please remember that this is not the laptop Notebook you are accustomed to.

This is the paper bound Notebook on which you write with a fountain pen so there are long pauses and longer reflections.

 I rate Notebook with 2 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Junglee

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Film: Junglee

Date: 29.02.2019

Director:  Chuck Russell

Producer: Vineet Jain, Priti Shahani

Cast Vidyut Jammwal, Pooja Sawant, Asha Bhat, Atul Kulkarni, Akshay Oberoi

Ratings: 3.5 stars


Raj Nayar/ Viddyut Jamwal is a veterinary doctor who chats up parrots and other pets. His father runs an elephant sanctuary in Odisha but Raj has avoided going home for more than a decade, ever since his mother passed away.

This year, Raj makes an exception and visits home for his mother’s barsi unprepared for all that has to unfold.

The story has an interesting premise and what make it engaging are the characters and their interpersonal relationships. The father and son have a unique bonding but also many unresolved conflicts. They are both connected to nature but have a different way of submitting to it.

Forest officer Dev/Akshay Oberoi, is in love with the sanctuary assistant Shankara/ Pooja Sawant but never expresses it. Shankara is devoted to Raj but never displays it because she feels Raj is drawn to the city news reporter Meera/ Asha Bhat while Raj is only interested in the jungle and the animals. He chats with the elephants, understands their anguish, he plays with the snakes and comprehends their concerns.

The film focuses on environment conservation and has a direct message that if we stop purchasing ivory articles then cruelty to elephants will come to a natural end.

Before interval the film is both technically and visually spell binding. It has exotic locations, seductive cinematography; dare devil action and drama that blow your brains. The problem is the second half, when hero, Viddyut Jamwal is out to nab poacher/ Atul Kulkarni and in the process serves us four exceedingly long fight sequences that begin inside the jungle, proceeds to the temple, the police station ending in a desolate place in the climax.

The hero fights his oppressors with sticks/ swords, at times perched on top of an elephant and at times racing motorbike on slopes. After a point the stunts appear mechanical and meaningless but not Viddyut Jamwal. Viddyut gives his best in every scene and moment and it is an absolute delight to watch him display the Martial Arts with utmost skill and finesses.

It is not easy to shoot in the midst of the jungle with so many animals and the credit for this goes to the director. Mention also must be made of actors Makrand Deshpande and Atul Kulkarni who make effective supporting cast.

In 1961 we saw the release of Shammi Kapoor’s Junglee that had nothing to do with the wild life. In 1971 Rajesh Khanna did Haathi Mere Saathi that told a tale of friendship between man and animal and now in 2019 we have Junglee championing for the conservation of forests and animals, particularly elephants.

Junglee should be watched for the spectacular action, for American director Chuck Russel’s perspective on India and most important for Viddyut  Jamwal who is first rate.

 I rate Junglee with 3.5 stars out of which one is exclusively for Viddyut.

Bhawana Somaaya