Category

Films

DocuBay – Day 1710

By | Films | No Comments

We are living in a world of technology and it is growing every day. DocuBay is the global membership video-on-demand streaming service by IN10 Media Network, announces a partnership with the International Film Festival of Shimla (IFFS) that will bring IFFS documentaries featured in last year’s film festival.

Select titles will be featured under their own category or “Bay” called IFFSBay and is now available for global streaming on the platform. DocuBay was also the official streaming partner of the IFFS, which took place in the historic and scenic town of Shimla in the Himalayan foothills.

Notable titles to be featured on DocuBay include Authenticity, about how Ayurvedic treatments might be the key to great health and lasting wellness. No Woman’s Land, about women in a Himalayan village defying the laws that keep them from inheriting property; Behind The Bars, about how learning homemaking skills like stitching and baking help to rehabilitate prisoners; and Dan the Himalayan Ibex, about a community of women determined to fight threats to the Ibex and help keep them alive despite hunters, poachers, and a declining habitat.

Akul Tripathi (CEO, DocuBay) stated: “Working with independent filmmakers and film festivals like the IFFS reinforces our commitment to providing a platform for storytellers to showcase their work worldwide. We’re very proud to highlight these features on DocuBay and look forward to further building relationships with independent filmmakers and other international film festivals to become a global voice for the factual film community.”

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: Tanhaji

By | Films | No Comments

Value for money

Film: Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

Date: 10.01.20120

Director: Om Raut

Cast: Ajay DevgnSaif Ali KhanKajolJagapathi Babu and Sharad Kelkar 

In the 17th century Mughal emperor Auurangzeb decided to conquer the Southern state of India, Kondhana. When King Chattrapati Shivaji/ Sharad Kelkar learned of Aurngzeb’s devious plans he sent his faithful Subedar Tanaji Malusare/ Ajay Devgn to prepare for war in Kondhana while Aurangzeb dispatched his best commander Uday Bhan/ Saif Ali Khan to conquer the Marathas.

Tanhaji like Panipat is a story about the preparation of a battle and the mind games involved in the attack of an enemy. The difference being that while director Ashutosh Gowariker borrowed from history, director Om Raut portrays it as fiction a la Baahubali. The film excels in all the technical departments that include a variety of amazing action sequences, skillful VFX, ace cinematography and sharp editing all comprised within 134 minutes which is commendable.

Prakash Kapadia who wrote Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas once again serves us dramatic dialogues aided by a haunting score from the extremely popular composers Ajay-Atul.

The demerits are that the action sequences are too long and too many and the women characters hardly get any screen time even then Padmavati Rao as Shivaji’s mother Jijabai makes an impact in two scenes and Kajol looks radiant as the proud Savitribai. It is while watching her you realize that you have missed her on the screen. Sharad Kelkar makes an impressive Chattrapati Shivaji and is a delight to watch him even though he does not fight the battle.

It is amazing how Saif Ali Khan always manages to lend that something special to his characters and this time he sparkles as the dangerously obsessive Uday Bhan. A leaner and fitter Ajay Devgn makes a courageous Tanhaji jumping from mountains performing spine chilling action and this time the macho actor spares time to smile, dance and romance as well.

Made on a budget of 150 crores Tanhaji releases in two languages/ Hindi, Marathi in both 2D and3D over 3800 screens in India alone. If you don’t look for authenticity and just enjoy the scale and the opulence the experience is more than value for money.

I rate Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanaasomaaya

Movie Review: Chhapaak

By | Films | No Comments

Sensitive, Positive, Upbeat

Film: Chhapaak

Date: 10.01.2020

Director: Meghna Gulzar

Writer: Atika Chohan- Meghna Gulzar

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey and Madhurjeet Sarghi

Ratings: 3.5 stars

All it takes is a minute to splash acid on another person and the damage is irreparable.

Inspired from the life of Lakshmi Agarwal director Meghna Gulzar with co-writer Atika Chohan chronicles the story of an acid victim and the repercussions thereafter. The film opens in Delhi’s Mayur Market where the accident occurs in broad daylight in the presence of many. A good man summons an ambulance and also informs the victim’s parents about her hospitalization but while life moves on for others it comes to a standstill for Malati/ Deepika Padukone and her family.

Chapaak addresses IPC Section 307/ Attempt to murder and IPC 326/ Punishment for acid attacks. In a somber moment Malati reflects how nice it would be if acid wasn’t freely available because then nobody would purchase it nor fling it. The thought translates into a PIL to stop sale of acid filed by Malati’s thoughtful lawyer/ Madhurjeet Sarghi.

If the acid victim feels isolated in public spaces/ bus stop or coffee shop we are to be blamed. A little child on the street looks up at Malati walking on the street and he is terrified! Another older boy bullies Malati’s adolescent brother to flee saying ‘Go the ghost waits for you at home’, vicious!! The disabled in our society are subjected to discrimination every day, be it neighborhood or job interview like the employer interviewing Malati asks why her accident is not mentioned in her bio-data.

What works about the film are the crisp dialogues, the music, the casting, and the inspiring lyrics. The downside is the slow pace, surprisingly low emotion quotient, and an unenergetic screenplay.

A heart-wrenching story of a woman fighting the Session Court/ High Court/ Supreme Court and undergoing frequent police investigations and multiple painful surgeries should have torn us apart, it does not! Probably because Malati herself never breaks down or maybe because the director deliberately ducks any display of indulgence is it self-pity or self-praise. It is a character-centric film but the camera does linger on to the protagonist, she is always part of the frame that is inclusive of other characters in the narrative.

There is a quiet about Malati’s persona, a restraint that binds her to her parents/ employer/ lawyer and later her attractive colleague Amol/ fabulous Vikrant Massey who shares special chemistry with his co-star. For an actor, her face is her weapon and when Malati has no residue of eyes-ears-nose left on the face, she connects with her breath and voice. Chhapak is Deepika’s most subdued and also the most difficult performance to date.

It is Meghna Gulzar’s most courageous film and powerful message that the poison brews in the head and the heart before it is flung through the bottle. Every day, when all of us leave home for work our mothers say ‘Take care’ to which we don’t pay attention. It is time we do so that no more Lakshmis and Malatis are subjected to heinous violence.

I rate the sensitive, positive and upbeat Chhappak with 3.5 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

Iconic Films iii – Day 1707

By | Films | No Comments

2000/Chandni Bar: Chandni Bar marked the arrival of the bar girl in films. A stomach churning script based on interviews with real life bar girls. Tabu played the small town girl cheated into becoming a bar dancer and the journey her life takes henceforth.. Hard hitting and shot in real locations, the film became a signature for director Madhur Bhandarkar to take up social causes in his future films like Page 3, Traffic Signal and Fashion.

2015/ Drishyam:  Ajay Devgan Tabu film told the story of what a man can do to save his family. A remake of Malyalam film the film raised a moral issue if it was alright to lie and strategise in case of an emergency and Ajay Devgan professed that he will do anything to help his family under the circumstances. As a critic I did not agree with the message but the audience did which is why it proved a super hit.

@bhawanasomaaya

Iconic Films 2 – Day 1706

By | Films | No Comments

90s/Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge : If Bobby was the hope of lovers in the 70s and Qayamat se Qayamat Tak of the 80s, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was the love story for the 90s. DDLJ is a refreshing gaze of the second NRI generation who rebel against authority but at the same time desire parental approval. The film launched two superstars/ Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol one super director/ Aditya Chopra) and a legacy. It is the only film in the world to run consecutively for 2 decades in one theatre – Maratha Mandir.

90s/Hyderabad Blues: The film ushered a new audience so far unaccustomed to watching films in theatre. What was remarkable was that it was in English and came before the era of multiplexes. Shot in 35mm the film starred amateur actors comprising mostly the director’s friends and family. What appealed to the audience was the naughty, witty, insightful script with delicious dialogues. Director Nagesh Kukunoor became an overnight phenomenon.

To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review – Dabangg 3 – Day 1697

By | Films | No Comments

 Prabhu Deva please restrict to dancing

 

Film: Dabangg 3

Release: 20.12.2019

Director: Prabhu Deva

Writers: Salman KhanPrabhu Deva and Alok Upadhyaye

Cast: Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha, Saiee Manjrekar, Arbaaz Khan, Mahie Gill and Sudeep.

Ratings: 1.5 stars

The problem with franchises is that by the time the third installment is released, you have forgotten the plot and all the characters however that is not the case with Dabangg franchise for sure.

When Dabangg released in 2010 the producers had no idea they were going to turn it into a franchise but the story of a wayward cop Chulbul Panday/ Salman Khan and his unusual ways of resolving corruption in Uttar Pradesh caught the fancy of the audience in a manner they had never imagined. Made on a budget of 42 crores INR the film did a business of 2.19 billion, the producers decided it was time to announce a sequel.

Dabangg 2 set in Kanpur and directed by Arbaaz Khan released in 2012  and this time Chulbul Pandey fights with a crooked politician/ Prakash Rai who in turn attacks Chulbul’s wife/ Sonakshi Sinha, a regular revenge story combined with songs and romance. This time the budget was bigger, 74 crores and the business 265 CR so the producers decided to take the franchise forward. Six years later Dabangg 3 is a prologue to the franchise and narrated as flashback by Khan. This time we are introduced to Khan’s first love Khushi/Saiee Manjrekar and his first opponent Bali/ Sudeep the reason behind him joining the police force.

Chulbul Panday is now fearless man and kills his enemies in the climax, in 2010 it was criminal Cheddi Singh/ Sonu Sood, in 2012 it is politician/ Prakash Raj and in 2019 it is Khushi’s murderer Bali/ South superstar Sudeep.

The first half of the film is insanely slow, old fashioned and rhetoric, reviving memories of the worst revenge dramas of the 70s. You wait in anticipation for something to happen, it does not. Post interval is a display of meaningless action at times in the villain’s den and at times at the police station, what’s pathetic is that the characters mouth the same old lines like ‘Mere 500 karod de do aur tumhare 14 bande ko chuda lo.’ Uff!!

This should not have happened because the story makes a sincere attempt to join in all the dots but  there’s no attention to any details, subtext, sets, ambiance, character as a result everything appears fake and out of place. It is unfortunate because all the actors make a sincere effort. Debutante Saiee Manrekar is appealing and new villain Sudeep charismatic. Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha try their best to entertain you but nothing touches your heart.

Sad but true, Dabangg 2 was more engaging than Dabangg 3 and Dabangg so far was the best of the lot.

I have a request to make to director Prabhu Deva, you  are a skilled choreographer and we look forward to your dancing but can you please reserve your skills as a filmmaker for the South films please, can you please spare Hindi films???

I rate Dabangg 3 with 1.5 stars.

 

 

Remembering Sridevi – Day 1695

By | Event, Films | No Comments

Year 2018 has been a difficult year for Boney Kapoor and his daughters struggling to survive after Sridevi’s sudden demise. It has been more than a year since she is gone and a biography has been released on the actress first in Delhi and now in Mumbai.

 

The first time I heard of Sridevi was in the early 1980s. Actor Jeetendra mentioned her to me in his interview and took me to watch the screening of Himmatwala songs “She does not know a word of Hindi but look at the way she dances and emotes. Mark my words this girl is going to be a sensation”.

 

Over the decades, I interviewed Sridevi a number of times and even though she was magic on screen, off screen she only communicated in mono-syllables. She didn’t care that the media made fun of her, called her ‘thunder thighs’ because she knew that her producers relied on her and she never let them down.

 

I was on the sets of Mr India when Shekhar Kapur was briefing her for ‘I love you’ and Sridevi listened in silence and then repeated what he said to her to her sister Srilatha in Tamil. I was confused what was going on but not Shekhar “Probably that is her way of processing, all actors have different methods” he said, probably, because when the camera turned on Sridevi was magic with her chiffon flying in the air.

 

The 80s introduced two heroines from down South, Sridevi and Jaya Prada and while most thought Jaya Prada would win the race it was Sridevi who surpassed all her rivals to become numero uno. The Tamil and the Telegu film industry never really forgave Bollywood for stealing their biggest and the brightest star but accepted that Sridevi was meant for a bigger audience.

 

 To be continued

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review : Mardaani 2 – Day 1692

By | Films | No Comments

 If the woman is so capable why call her Mardani?

 

Film: Mardani 2

Release: 13.12.2019

Producer: YRFilms

Director: Gopi Puthran

Cast: Rani Mukherji, Vishal Jethwa

Music: Annu Malik

 

Name: Shivani Shivaji Roy

Designation: Crime Branch, Senior Officer

Posting: 2014, Mumbai

Case: Child Trafficking

Details: Every 8 minutes a girl goes missing and every year 40,000 kids are kidnapped

Deadline: 30 days

Accomplishment: Organized gang busted

Team: Director Pradeep Sarkar, opponent, Tahir Raj Bassin

 

Six years later….

 

Name/ Designation: Shivani Shivaji Roy. Crime Branch Senior Officer

Posting: 2019, Kota, Rajasthan

Case: Serial rape and murder

Details: There’s a rape every 10 minutes, of the 2000 registered cases the perpetrators are minors.

This time Deadline: 48 hours

This time Team: Director Gopi Puthran, accused, Vishal Jethwa

 

Mardani 2 is a sequel of Yash Raj Films Mardani and is stronger and more effective than the prequel.

The opening shot giving a panoramic view of festive celebrations in Rajasthan is a treat to the eyes and amidst all the revelry you are introduced to the villain, Sunny/ Bajrang/ Vishal Jethwa looking for his next victim. He is self-assured and dangerous and is attracted to the strong and assertive women because he feels they have to be taught a lesson and he is the one who will do it, so Sunny lays the trap and when they fall for it he kidnaps them, tortures, assaults, abuses and finally murders them one by one!

Mardani 2 is a tale  of the rape victims between Dassehre  and Diwali, the story of Shivani Shivaji Roy/ Rani Mukherji and how she cracked the case with her team but most important, it a film that holds a mirror to our society where  women are still unequal to men.

Irrespective of whether she is in a position of power or not, working/ studying or even at home, she is molested in public space/ attacked in professional space and abused in personal space and Maardani 2 addresses that exploitation.

The merits of the film include the length/147 minutes, engaging screenplay, powerful dialogues, razor sharp editing, convincing action and impressive camera work so Gopi Puthran take a bow. The demerits are that the criminal is always able to strategize his plans even though he has no infrastructure or consistent resources. Shivani and team have a deadline of 48 hours and are on the field without a break but the strain and the exhaustion does not reflect in their appearance/body language or temperament.

Vishal Jethwa is energetic, unpredictable and the surprise packet of the film reminiscent of the menacing Shah Rukh Khan in Darr. Rani Mukherjee proves that she is as convincing wearing chiffon singing romantic songs in the Alps as dragging the villain by the collar and whipping him with a belt.

I have a complaint against producer Aditya Chopra; if you truly believe in the message of the film why title it Mardani? Think about it!

I rate Mardani 2 with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

 

Movie Review: Pati Patni aur Woh

By | Films | No Comments
Come back Sanjeev Kumar
 
Film: Pati Patni aur Woh
Release: 06.12.2019
Writer/Director: Mudassar Aziz
Cast: Kartik Aryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Panday
 
In the year 1978 BR banner made a film on the subject of an extra-marital relationship called Pati Patni aur Woh wherein the husband/ Sanjeev Kumar did a 9-5 job and returned home exhausted after a long day at work.
The wife/ Vidya Sinha was a regular house-wife and the middle-aged couple was kind submitted to a monotonous routine after a decade of marriage and child until excitement knocks in the form of a personal secretary/ Ranjeeta Kaur. The hero is so fascinated with his fantasy that he does not mind building a castle of lies to sustain her sympathy and in the process slowly begins to lose his heart to her.
 
Directed by BR Chopra it was unusual in the 70s to address serious matters in comedy genre which is why perhaps the film was path-breaking. Today, 41 years later, BR Films and T Series combine force to repackage the old story in a new bottle, stirred and shaken by writer-director Muddassar Aziz, the only problem is that Aziz follows the original plot with some cosmetic corrections. He changes names/ domicile/ age/ profession of all the characters but not issues or intentions and that is where the film fails to touch your heart.
 
Adultery may have been a scandal four decades but not anymore specifically if it borders on harmless flirtation. Then pace of life was slow and people had time to listen to each other’s woes but in the 21st century with the advent of technology specially mobiles, isolation is bliss and emotion quotient a low priority for all and therefore it is unconvincing that a professional like Tapasya Singh/ Ananya Panday has all the time in the world to hang out with a government officer going on drives and eating pani puri with Abhinay Tripathi/ Kartik Aryan and finally lose her heart to him.
 
It is unconvincing that Kartik Aryan is bored with his three-year-old marriage because Bhumi Pednekar is not the traditional wife, she has oomph, enjoys sex and encourages flirtation from her students. Also considering that Kartik’s boss is more than happy with his performance and he has a friend/ Aparshkti Khurana who is him in all crises, he has no business to be sulking and grumbling all the time.
 
The biggest drawback is the script with a paper-thin plot packed with sexist jokes and offensive dialogues referring to class and caste. The characters are underdeveloped and the costume designer clearly not included in the script discussion as a result Ananya Panday walks the streets of Kanpur in stelletos and Bhumi Pednekar wears decorative backless cholis to coaching class, do you blame the students for being distracted?
 
The film talks about the middle class but there are signs of any middle class values in any of the characters and no serious message to impart to the audience either. Everything is superficial and superfluous and all the performances lukewarm except Aparshakti Khurana who never lets you down in any film. To be fair Bhumi Pednekar tries her best but is majorly let down by her costume designer who presents her neither as a wife/ teacher but as a Kanpur Yash Chopra heroine.
 
The good thing about the film is that it revives memories of the 1978 Pati Patni aur Woh and the magical Sanjeev Kumar. I rate Pati Patni aur Woh with 2 stars.
 
Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Panipat- Day 1687

By | Films | No Comments

Well Played Ashutosh

Film: Panipat

Release: 06.12.2019

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Cast: Arjun KapoorSanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon

Writers: Chandrashekhar Dhavalikar, Ranjeet Bahadur, Aditya Rawal,Ashutosh Gowariker/screenplay

Ashok Chakradhar/dialogue

Music: Ajay−Atul

You have to grant it to Ashutosh Gowariker, he walks a difficult path with every film and irrespective of how it is received at the box-office, he continues with his creative journey. If Lagaan was about courage and conviction, Swades spoke of national pride and Jodhaa Akbar addressed religion harmony.

This time Gowariker chooses defeat not a victory because he believes there’s something special about the battle of Panipat and the journey that cannot be ignored.

In the 18th century, the Marathas emerged as the most powerful empire in the whole India but their happiness was short-lived as the Afghan king Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India and the Maratha Peshwa/ Monish Bahl ordered his nephew Sadashiv Rao Bhau/ Arjun Kapoor to stop him thus leading to the Third Battle of Panipat between the two armies.

All historical are eventually stories of palace politics and fragile kingdoms. Panipat reflects all that and more, it chronicles the time when the Peshwas traveled 1000 kilometers from Pune to up north to challenge the invaders. It was when they were unable to cross the Yamuna River that they traveled via Mathura and Agra to Delhi but were intercepted on their way to Punjab and needed to halt at Panipat.

Like all Gowariker films, this one is long too, also it is a difficult watch because it is content heavy. The subject is battleground so the violence is gruesome but the merits of the film by far outweighs the demerits – superbly cast the film  features stalwarts like Zeenat Aman/ Sakina Begum, Padmini Kolhapure/ Gopika Bai, Mohnish Bahl/ Nana Saheb Peshwa, and Kunal Kapoor as Shuja-ud-Daula in supporting roles which is very sporting of the actors.

National Award-winning art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai who has worked with the director closely on his earlier films recreates the majestic Shaniwar Wada and Neeta Lulla who did Jodhaa Akbar now styles the Peshwas, the Rajputs, the Muslims, and the Afghanis.

India is a land of diversities and unity was an issue centuries ago and continues to be so today. Panipat is probably the first film that tells you how war is planned, the process, the paraphernalia, the economics, the production, and the hardships. There are elephants, camels, horses, cannons, bullets, guns, swords and loads and loads of kitchen ingredients that explain the participation of women at such missions.

For me, the best scenes in the film are those exploring the man-woman relationship between Sadashiv/ Arjun Kapoor with Parvati/ Kriti Sanon proving yet again that men were progressive and women were empowered in the olden days. Sadashiv extracts a promise from his bride that if anything happens to him on the battlefield she will not submit to Sati.

There’s always a magical moment in his films that lingers long after the scene is over. In Panipat when Kriti Sanon transforms a cloth tent in the middle of a jungle into a dream chamber, Arjun Kapoor and the audience is mesmerized!

Lovingly shot by CK Muraleedharan and music composed by Ajay-Atul they beat drums during the battle sequence in the climax as if saluting the brave hero on his final journey.

Sanjay Dutt as Ahmad Shah Abdali suits the part and Arjun Kapoor as Sadashiv Rao Bhau is restrained. Kriti Sanon dazzles as Parvati Bai. She can heal wounds, dance, sing, seduce, support and also sword fight, in short, she is sensational.

Well played Ashutosh Gowariker, history needs to be documented and it requires courage to recap stories of defeat. Must you watch the film? If the Marathas can stake their lives for our country it will be a shame if we cannot spare three hours to salute their bravery.

I rate Panipat with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya