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Movie Review: Mission Mangal

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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: https://twitter.com/bigfmindia/status/1162315215137959936?s=19

Bhawanaa Somaaya

 

Movie Review – SUPER 30

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Finally, Eklavya defeats Arjuna
Film: Super 30
Date: 12 July 2019
Director: Vikas Bahl
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur

In Mahabharata, when Guru Dronacharya learns that a poor boy Eklavya looks up to him as his teacher, he promptly asks for
his right thumb as guru dakshina sothat prince Arjuna remains the best archer and so that the son of a king can be groomed to
become a king.
In Super 30 Anand Kumar’s father, a postman believes that gone are the days when the son of a king bequeaths the throne for
today, only the deserving is entitled to wear the crown!
Inspired from the life of a brilliant mathematician Anand Kumar, who collected a group of underprivileged students and prepared
them for entrance exams of IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) the film is shot in Ramnagar Fort and in Sambhar Lake Town.

A gold medalist from Patna’s Ramanujam College, Kumar resolves a difficult theorem as an article for a foreign journal and is
invited by the Cambridge for higher studies. The Education Minister has promised to help him economically but at the right
moment turns a deaf ear to his pleas and Kumar is forced to burn his books and sell papad on the streets.
One day, his bicycle rams into a luxurious car and the rich man, also alumni of Ramanujam makes a star teacher out of Anand
Kumar. The coaching classes ushers a new lifestyle and for the first time, the family is comfortable. Life seems settled when a
chance encounter with a rickshaw driver revives memories of the king and the crown prince and overnight Anand Kumar deserts
Arjuna/ his rich students in search of Eklavya/ the underprivileged students.

Many years ago, a teacher had once asked me, why our films always trivialized the professor, do we have no regard for the man
who imparts knowledge to us, he had asked. Vikas Bahl’s Super 30 breaks the stereotype. We have read many posters of ‘Mulgi
shikli pragati jhali’ and now Super 30 emphasizes that one educated child can transform the fortunes of an entire family.

We have seen enough of cinema celebrating the rich and the corrupt now Super 30 proves that knowledge, not money is real
power and the human mind is the strongest weapon. In this film, the poor are not weak and whether he is an office peon, the postman
or the ward boy in a hospital all have a voice and more important, self-worth. In Kumar’s world parents lend wings to their offsprings and children participate in the dilemmas of the adults.

Like all films, there are some misgivings. Some things are not clearly explained like the children come from different age groups
but study in the same class. Then we have no idea about their basic education. The pace is a tad slow and some sequences appear
long but all this does not matter because there are many pluses to compensate like the narrative, Ajay Atul’s music, Sanjeev
Daattaa’s writing, all the characters, locations, dialect, and subtle humor.

There are some scenes that haunt you long after the film is over…The stormy night when Anand Kumar and his brother drive
their father to the hospital. When Anand uses his exercise book pages to wrap the home-made papads and sell them on the
streets. When the students present a street play in English and succeed in what they have set out for.

Of the performances, Pankaj Tripathi as the self-absorbed politician is effective and Mrunal Thakur alluring in the romantic
scenes but you cannot look at anybody when Hrithik Roshan is on the screen! Hrithik makes a special connection with all his
characters over the decades but this time he lives Anand Sir and invades into our hearts forever.

Super 30 is inspirational, aspirational and a must watch for the young and the old, poor and rich, for all teachers/ parents and
students, in fact, there cannot be a better tribute than Super 30 for the Guru Purnima Day.
I rate Super 30 with 4.5 stars out of which 1 star is exclusively for Hrithik Roshan.
Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Gully Boy (Day 1528)

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Proud of you Gully Boy

 Film: Gully Boy

Release:  14.02. 2019

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Writer: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Vasundhara Koshy (Script Supervisor)

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Kochlin, Vijay Raaz

On a dark, lonely street, a young man in a hood walks slowly; he stops by a car, smashes the window and drives away with the vehicle. He knows it is a criminal offense but in the given situation, it is the only option.

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy establishes that sometimes deceit is inevitable to follow your dream and perhaps morality depends on circumstances.

After Luck by Chance/ 2009, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobbara/ 2011 and Dhil Dhadak Ne Do/ 2015 Akhtar tells the story of Divine, a street rapper as a fiction not a biopic and takes many cinematic and liberties to make the narrative engaging.

What makes Gully Boy endearing is that it is simple and truthful and therefore touches your heart. Every character is fondly etched out balancing their strengths and vulnerabilities, they inhabit a believable world and what’s special is that the director empathizes with each one of them.

The Dharavi slum has been an object of attraction for filmmakers over the years even though shooting there has never been easy and yet international filmmakers have come back to it unfortunately to glamourize the underprivileged and their compelling situations in Asia’s largest slum.

Gully Boy is the first film to not associate Dharavi with the standard images of garbage/ filth/ long queue for water, crime, and dance bars and instead look for new emotions and stories within their world.

So we have the hero Murad live with his large joint family in a bathroom size home divided into four sections. He attends college in the morning, meets up friends in the evening and at night when everyone falls asleep hops onto the roof of the house and pens songs.

In Dharavi, everyone lives in cramped spaces but they have king size hearts, their pockets are most often empty but their eyes brim over with dreams!

Gully Boy is India’s first Rap music film composed by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, more than a dozen songs are created by 50 plus musicians, lyricists including Javed Akhtar, Divine, Ankur Tiwari and songs from different singers including Ranveer Singh’s Apna Time Aayega which is making waves.

There is a haunting quality to Doori by Javed Akhtar and Divine and also Jeene Main Aaye Maza written and sung by Ankur Tiwari interestingly shot in Mumbai at night. With Murad mentored by Sher, we learn about beat, rhythm, synchronization, discover that best songs are stories about personal life!

The story extends to Murad’s interpersonal relationships, dreams, deprivations, and touches upon many uncomfortable issues like marital abuse, deceit, protest. The world created by Akhtar and her co-writer Reema Kagti is devoid of inverted snobbery and discriminations. Their gaze is non-judgmental and decisions dictated by conscience. In a scene, Murad’s illiterate friend asks him to take him to his English speaking parties. Here success does not isolate but nurtures the winner. The same friend magnanimously frees him of guilt when he visits him at the police lock-up, a superb scene.

The director shares special chemistry with her actors and it is reflected in their performances. The supporting cast comprising Murad’s friends, his father / Vijay Raaz, his mother/ Amruta Subhash, his singer friend MC Sher/ Siddhant Chaturvedi and partner Sky/ Kalki Kochlin are first rate.

As the hijab-wearing Safeena who plays Murad’s childhood sweetheart, Alia Bhatt is mesmerizing. A medical student Safeena is a captive in her home deprived of small joys like wearing lipstick and partying with friends. Still, she is cheerful most of the time but when oppression overpowers, she breaks down and you cry with her.

Ranveer Singh’s Murad is severely repressed and this reflects in his body language. Watch him emote with his eyes downcast as he swallows insult after insult. He has learned to contain his frustration and music is the only meditation that can calm him down.

After the larger than life Bajirao, Padmavat and Simmba, Gully Boy is Ranveer Singh’s quietest and bravest performance where he is stripped off all his vulnerabilities. So many images haunt you long after the film is over…

Murad’s first recording as the camera draws closer and closer on his face… His disdain when the foreign crew invades their privacy as if they don’t exist…When Murad waits his turn at the contest and when he sings the anthem song in the final show.

There is an interesting sequence of how the name ‘Gully Boy’ was coined and became the voice of the youth. Zoya Akhtar walks the street with the Gully Boy exposes you to new sounds and beat.

Intense, engaging and truthful Gully Boy is a must watch for the young and the old. I rate Gully Boy with 4 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Sui Dhaaga (Day 1441)

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Film: Sui Dhaaga

Date: 28 September 2018

Writer-Director: Sharat Kataria

Cast: Anushka Sharma, Varun Dhawan, Raghuvir Yadav

Yash Raj Films produced and Sharat Kataria written and directed Sui Dhaaga tells the story of a family struggling for survival in the outskirts of Delhi.

Father Raghuvir Yadav has just been given a farewell at work. Mother is a homemaker who needs frequent hospitalizations. Older son has moved out with wife and child, therefore, the responsibility of running the home falls on the younger son Mauji/ Varuṇ Dhawan and his wife Mamta/ Anushka Sharma.

Mauji works as a helper in a sewing machine office and is regularly ill-treated by the boss’s son who even makes him play a doggie. Mauji bears up with the insults for his salary but one day decides that enough is enough and quits.

Motivated by his wife Mauji sets up his shop on the street and does all the groundwork possible to attract customers but domestic distractions usher obstacles and business never takes off.

The first half of the film acquaints us with the daily routine of the household, the quirks and the complexities of the various characters.

The second half is about their aspirations. As Mauji supported by Mamta struggle to launch their small business there are many battles to be fought and many lessons to be learned.

Sui Dhaaga is about empowerment and more, it offers insight into marriage and joint families, is about a working couple, a movement, self-reliance, and aspirations.

The negatives are the paper-thin plot and the slow pace. The second half is repetitive and fails to reach a crescendo. The music is a major disappointment and the climax a foregone conclusion.

The positives are the intention, the message, to an extent the treatment and the performances.

Varuṇ Dhawan portrays Mauji with anger and amusement, his ability to smile under all circumstances with ‘Sab baḍhiyaaṅ haiṅ’ is endearing. This is his first role as a family man and he is convincing.

As the head covered daughter-in-law drowned in household chores Anushka Sharma is first-rate, her eyes light up when she is happy and face distorts when she cries. She is the new age woman who in time of crisis proves a true companion.

In the olden days director, Basu Chatterjee addressed common man issues through his light-hearted movies which the audience transformed into a personal experience.

Sui Dhaaga had the potential of having the same impact but despite his heart in the right place, writer/ director Sharat Kataria lost the mark.

I rate Sui Dhaaga with 3 stars.

Arjun Kapoor to essay Intelligence officer (Day 1404)

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Acclaimed director Raj Kumar Gupta known for taut narratives like Aamir and No One Killed Jessica has joined hands with Fox Star Studios for their next, an espionage thriller–India’s Most Wanted, inspired from true events.

Arjun Kapoor will portray the role of an intelligence officer for the first time on celluloid, says Arjun “Raj Sir was the first director to call me after the release of my debut film Ishaqzaade and I can never forget that. Since then we have been meeting to collaborate but it has not happened ever since and now suddenly it has all fallen into place. I’m aware that I am entering an uncharted territory with this genre and I am both nervous and excited to do so”.

Gupta endorses Arjun’s views, says it is a film close to his heart and he has been researching the subject for the past three years. He says he has believed in Arjun Kapoor and looking forward to his first collaboration with Fox Star Studios as the producing partner on this film.”

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: Dhadak (Day 1382)

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Film: Dhadak

Writer/ Director: Shashank Khaitan

Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khatter,Ashutosh Rana

Music: Ajay-Atul

‘I love you’ says the girl while the boy stares without blinking, ‘now you say it’ demands the girl. The boy lowers his eyes, says he feels shy but the girl will not give up until he has uttered the three words. Shashank Khaitan directed Dhadak is the official remake of the iconic Marathi film Sairat now being adapted into several Indian languages.

Set in the picturesque Udaipur, Dhadak is the love story of an upper caste Parthivi/ Janhvi, daughter of a rising politician Ratan Singh/Ashutosh Rana and Madhukar/ Ishaan, son of a middle-class restaurant owner.

The fatal attraction between Parthivi and Madhukar spells doom not just for the lovers but their families and friends and the only solution to the growing outrage and despair is escape and isolation.

As the protagonist’s journey from Udaipur to Mumbai to Nagpur to finally settle down to an anonymous existence in Kolkata their problems only multiply and gradually both lose courage and breakdown alternately but there is no way out now.

The positives of the film are the unconventional characters, the girl is the initiator in the romance and when obstacles arise she assumes moral responsibility for her beloved.

Music composers Ajay-Atul who had the viewer’s dancing inside the theatres in the original repeat the magic in Dhadak ably supported by John Stewart’s haunting background score and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s heart-rending lyrics.

The negatives of the film are primarily the comparisons with the raw, rustic and hard-hitting Sairat shot in real locations and often with real people without the slightest fuss or frills.

Dhadak is mainstream, contemporary and unapologetic about opulent hotels; stunning landscapes, designer costumes, and styling that don’t alter even after the couple hits desperate times.

There is a special chemistry between the lead pair, Janhvi is vibrant and effective and Ishan is intense and energetic with myriad expressions in his eyes.

Director Shashank Khaitan who has so far flirted with Badrinath / Humpty Sharma ki Dulhaniya for the first time steps into a darker zone and addresses deep-rooted prejudices in our society and most of the time follows the original template barring a few alterations as in the climax. If Sairat stunned you with its ending Dhadak will leave you numb in the cinema hall.

Watch Dhadak without the baggage of Sairat, watch it with your family particularly teenage children because there are many lessons to be learned from this.

I rate Dhadak with 3.5 stars.

Movie Review: Race 3 is so absurd that it is cathartic (Day 1355)

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Film: Race 3

Date: 15 June 2018

Director: Remo D’Souza

Writer: Shiraz Ahmed

Cast: Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Jacqueline D’Souza, Daisy Shah, Bobby Deol, Saqib Saleem, Freddy Daruwala

 

For those who have not watched 2008 Race shot in South Africa and 2013 Race 2 shot in Turkey Race 3 showcases a new hero/ writer/ director and location but the plot is once again the family and their quest for power.

Once again there are opulent mansions, magnificent cars, dance, drama, full on parties and daredevil stunts that never stop.

Helicopters appear in the sky faster than taxis on roads and at the click of a trigger, men, buildings and vehicles are blown into fireballs.

The minus of the film is the unusually drab music and the incomprehensible lyrics. Granted it is a thriller but the screenplay could have been more imaginative. The narrative, in this case, unfolds like a school play where every character tells his story.

Unfortunately, in their bid to make it larger than life everything – action and emotions are exaggerated and over the top.

There are major continuity flaws: Shamsher Singh/ Anil Kapoor in a chase sequence breaks his car door and uses it as a shield, post the fight however he locks the same door and speeds away.

Sanjana/ Daisy Shah performs a major action sequence wrapped in a tight dress and high heels, when she gets uncomfortable Daisy picks a knife and skillfully slits her costume for more leg movement. That’s not all, in a jump sequence the pencil heels conveniently transform into sandals.

There is no explanation for Yash/ Bobby Deol’s character, who arrives out of the blue and becomes a major player in the game. There is no explanation why Sikander/ Salman Khan and later Jacqueline Fernandes are blessed with extra-ordinary powers to fly in the sky a la Batman.

The plus of the film is the scale, pace, locations, cinematography, production values and the twists and turns in the characters which are the USP of the Race franchise.

Should you watch Race 3? Absolutely, because sometimes, it is important to give your heart and mind some rest and once in a while comes a film that is so crazy. Race 3 is so absurd that it is  cathartic, so stretch your legs and relish the exotic locations made memorable by Anil Kapoor’s marvelous performance.

One more thing, this time it is not just Salman Khan but also Bobby Deol who goes topless so wait for the whistle moment in the climax when the heroes fling their shirts out to fight together.

I rate the unpretentious and thoroughly entertaining Race 3 with 3 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Movie Review: Veere Di Wedding (Day 1345)

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Release: 01.06.2018

Director: Shashanka Ghosh

Writer: Nidhi Mehra, Mehul Suri

Cast: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhasker, Shikha Talsania, Sumeet Vyas

 

Sometimes, an idea is more interesting than the execution. Sometimes, the making of a film is more enjoyable than the film.

Cinema is a tricky media because what’s intended is not always successfully projected and which is probably happened in the case of Veere Di Wedding.

Telling the story of four school fiends Kalindi/ Kareena Kapoor Khan, Avni/ Sonam Kapoor, Sakshi/ Swara Bhasker and Meera/ Shikha Talsania who find their paths and live in different cities but stay connected via skype and phone.

10 years pass by…Two are married, one is a successful lawyer and the fourth, Kalindi after much trepidation has agreed to say I do to her live in boyfriend. Kalindi’s wedding is a reunion for all the friends and predictably much unfolds at the event.

The minus of the film is the lack of detailing, so we have four interesting characters but without real situations, conflicts or misgivings and female bonding is all about clinking champagne glasses, holidaying on beaches and sex but unfortunately, sex scenes don’t make a film narrative.

The plus is the refreshing casting, the chemistry between the co-actors, exotic locations, super styling, some outrageous dialogues and the effort to redefine woman-centric cinema.

Among the performances, Neena Gupta as Sonam Kapoor’s mother and Sumeet Vyas as Kareena Kapoor’s partner effective. This is not a film about individual histrionics but when the four friends come together on screen, they sizzle!

If you are looking for great locations, star presence maybe this chick flick is for you and so what if the trailers don’t live up to expectations.

I rate Veere Di Wedding with 2 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (Day 1344)

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Release: 01.06.2018

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane

Writer: Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, Abhay Koranne

Cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Nishikanth Kamat

 

Bhavesh Joshi Superhero is a fight against corruption exposed via new media and so what if the hero covers his face with a paper bag as long as he targets all the wrongs in city like breaking signals or cutting trees.

It is also a tale of three friends Bhavesh/ Priyanshi Painyuli, Sikander/ Harshvardhan Kapoor and Rajat/ Ashish Verma who come together because they want to change the city but with time, while Rajat and Sikandar move on only Bhavesh remains committed to the cause.

What works about the film is the shot taking, action and splendid cinematography capturing Mumbai city in the dark lanes. The chase sequence involving motorcycles driving over bridges and rail tracks right inside the train compartments is the highlight of the film.

What doesn’t work about the film is the pace and the length 153 minutes, post interval the film drags with long, repetitive sequences.

The characters are far too exaggerated. The superhero can fuse electric connections, hack computers and even create motorbikes.

In the climax, his friend pulls him out of the water, drives him to the hospital and back home without police case or obstacles.

Here was a subject that had all the potential of becoming a cult film instead three prominent writers transform into a story of personal vendetta. A tragedy!

Among performances, mention must be made of Priyanshi who portrays Bhavesh Joshi with passion.

Harshwardhan Kapoor who debuted in the romantic Mirziya in 2016 proves that he can shine as an action hero as well.

I rate Bhavesh Joshi Superhero with 2.5 stars

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: 102 Not Out (Day 1323)

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Film: 102 Not Out

Release: 04 May 2018

Director: Umesh Shukla

Writer: Saumya Joshi

Music: Salim–Sulaiman

 

75 year old Babulal Vakharia/ Rishi Kapoor sets an alarm before getting under the shower because a second longer than 15 minutes in water gives him pneumonia. Babulal has posters warning him to shut off the geyser inside the bathroom and outside the door because he has burst a geyser in the past and believes in precautions.

He has a fixed time to visit the doctor, fixed time to water the plants, fixed time to watch television and fixed time to fall asleep wrapped in his 60 year old shawl purchased from Kashmir when he was 10 years old.

Babulal’s father Datatrey Vakharia/ Amitabh Bachchan is 102 years old and keen to break the record of the oldest man surviving in the world.  He walks alone, travels freely in a rickshaw and revels in celebrations.

They live under the same roof but have their allotted separate corners. They have separate refrigerators while senior Vakharia stores delicious deserts in his fridge, junior stores boiled vegetables in his. They have separate TV sets, the senior relishes Chaplin and Discovery on his latest model while junior watches Health & Yoga on his outdate box.

There are many ways to interpret this film. You can describe it as a father –son love story or a father-son hate story. You can call it a story of relationship or a story of life.

The demerit of the film is that it is restricted to three characters and one location, Shanti Nivas, so not exactly a cinematic experience. The climax is over the top and one misses echoes and images of more activity in the household.

The merits include the plot, the characters, message, music, duration and the performances.

As Dheeraj, Jimmit Trivedi matches the comic timing of both Kapoor and Bachchan with an amazing ease.

Rishi Kapoor embraces the rather grumpy Babulal without vanity and without inhibition.

As the toothless, balding super active Dattatrey Vakharia Amitabh Bachchan mixes anger with hurt and touches your heart.

Kapoor and Bachchan together have over the last four decades done several films but 102 Not Out is easily the most significant one as they make you laugh, weep and reflect on life.

102 Not Out is an inspiration for all the senior citizens and I recommend it as family viewing.

I rate 102 Not Out with 3 stars.

 

My new book Keshava: A Magnificent Obsession is now listed on Amazon. For pre-order click here: https://amzn.to/2vogOtk

unnamed @bhawanasomaaya