Bariwaali completes 20 years – Day 1768

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For a long time now Anupam Kher has only been working in foreign productions and avoiding doing Hindi films. Why and how he arrived at that decision is a mystery but Kher makes frequent trips to India, spends time at his acting institute and performs his play Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai.

Kher is a sought-after motivation speaker traveling all around the world addressing different groups images of which are sometimes visible on the Instagram.

This year Anupam Kher’s debut film production, Bengali film Bariwaali completes 20 years. The film won him many awards and he always said that he was so moved by the story that he had to make the film for the love of cinema.

 “I wanted to experience the joy of attending film festivals, collect innumerable awards and I was able to do that with Bariwaali and I enjoyed that phase thoroughly” he had said many years ago.

To be continued


The making of Kabhi Kabhie – Day 1759

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Valentine Day is over but the hangover of love persists and call it a coincidence that the biggest love story of Hindi cinema was released a week after the Valentine. On 23 this month Yash Raj Films Kabhi Kabhie completes 41 years and what is remarkable is that after four long decades, so many changes in trends, subjects and technology the film strikes a chord with the audience.

It is said that Yash Chopra went to sign Amitabh Bachchan for Kabhi Kabhie after the success of Zanjeer and Bachchan agreed but the multi-star cast was taking a long time to confirm dates and schedules and in the meantime Salim and Javed approached  Chopra with a brilliant script which was a combination of Mother India and Ganga Jamuna and wanted to cast Amitabh Bachchan as the protagonist.

 To be continued


Movie Review – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

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Film: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

Release: 21.02.2020

Writer/Director: Hitesh Kewalya

Cast: Ayushman Khurana, Jitendra Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta

Actor Ayushman Khurana was a radio jockey before he made his debut in films in 2012. In the last 8 years he has made 15 films out of which many have been superhits. What is commendable about his choice of subjects is that all these films have addressed relevant issues be it physical like obesity in Dum Laga Ke Haisha or alopecia in Bala, marital as in Shubh Mangal Savdhan which was about erectile dysfunction or Badhai Ho about parent pregnancy.

If Bareily Ki Barfi addressed small town complexities and Hawaizaada elaborated on professional aspirations, Article 15 enlightened us on our constitutional rights.

Dream Girl was about deception but more about repression and sexual fantasies while Vicky Donor unapologetically celebrated sexuality. In all his films, Ayushman Khurana wittingly or unwittingly played the victim who has his say in the climax. For the first time in Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan which addresses homosexuality, Ayushman plays the aggressor egging on his docile partner to defy his family and come out of the closet.

In the very first scene the lead pair Aman/ Jitendra Kumar and Kartik/ Ayushman Khurana are established as a couple, boarding a train to Allahabad, Aman’s home where Aman’s cousin/ Goggle is getting married.

The following sequences are a replay of what we have watched in earlier small-town movie releases that is a large joint family with innumerable characters running up and down, shouting instructions. Shot inside a dilapidated ancestral home, the characters are forever venting frustrations. In short, a story of family problems, family conflicts, family drama and family bonding!

Clearly there is no dearth of excitement in the Tripathi household where the son is discovered to be homosexual, the daughter runs away on her wedding night and the to be daughter-in-law is nabbed by the police with the family jewelry. There’s more, the parents have a past, the family has a history and the brothers, the co-sisters are all fighting old battles, with so many complications the story should have got us hooked, it does not!

The pace is slow, screenplay unengaging, dialogues lack-lustre and narrative devoid of any surprises. Some scenes are meant to shock you like the prolonged kiss scene between the heroes beneath the windcheater a la Aashiqui irritates more than amuses. Some scenes are meaningless like Ayushman in superman costume delivering gyaan and some annoyingly regressive like Gajaj Rao performing funeral rites of his alive son and women of the house obsessed with Streedhan.

Ayushman Khurana and Jitendra Kumar make a drab pair devoid of any chemistry and nothing about their portrayal or interaction makes me believe that they are genuinely in love. On the contrary there is a sparkle though not as strong as Badhai Ho between Neena Gupta aur Gajaj Rao and they are responsible for you to sit through the utterly boring film.

I rate Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan with 2 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Memories of Sai and Shabana Day 1751

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Were you disappointed that they killed you halfway through the fi
No, my exit was very clearly stated in the script and the film is fair to the script. A lot of
people felt that the film ended for them when I die in the hospital but I disagree because
eventually. Saaz is the story of Bansi and her traumas.
How was your interaction with Shabana Azmi and director Sai Paranjpye?
Shabana Azmi is an old friend. We have done many films together in the past. She starred
in my home production Anokha Bandhan. Our careers had traveled different destinations
but the warmth remained consistent. I didn’t know Sai at all and did the film because I
was curious about parallel cinema but I was not very comfortable. I have been around for
a long time, started my career as a chorus dancer then solo dancer, then supporting and
second lead roles and finally played a heroine as well. Over the decades we adjusted to
the multi-starrers then the Gujarati films but the art and parallel cinema is a different
culture altogether. For a long time now, I have been associated with television and now
waiting to explore the web series which are more realistic and addictive I am told.

Creating Mansi Brindavan Day 1750

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So what attracted you to Mansi Brindavan?
That she is mature beyond her age, that she is devoted to her family and also devoted to
her career. Mansi is ambitious but you cannot question her love for her younger sister.
Did it worry you that the story was controversial?
More than thousand films are made in a year in our country and every story is inspired/
influenced from somewhere – real life, books or other films. As an actress, it’s not my
concern to worry about the source of the story besides every story about a singer is not
related to the Mangeshkar family. There were some similarities but there were many
contradictions as well.
Your character was almost negative
That was the attraction, Mansi has so many shades – she is warm, sensitive and also
authoritative. She feels protective about her younger sister and is angry when she is
abused by her husband but is not as generous with her career. It was a terrific plot but
mishandled in the climax. I missed the aunt-niece relationship, I’m an aunt in real life and
while my sister and I have innumerable disagreements this has never come in the way of
my relationship with her daughter.

To be continued

Aruna Irani: Replay Saaz Day 1749

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Just in the way a familiar fragrance triggers a special memory, an old film replayed on
the television revives specific recall. It happened to me last night when surfing late night
I came across Sai Paranjpye’s telefilm Saaz and could not resist watching the entire film.
Saaz revived memories of how the film was conceived /cast and shot, all the stories and
controversies associated with the film came gushing back. The Mangeshkar family was
upset because word had got around that the story was inspired from the life of Asha
Bhosle played by Shabana Azmi and Lata Mangeshkar played by Aruna Irani.
When the film was released both the actresses were inundated with compliments but
while Shabana had the author backed role, Aruna Irani sparkled in her slightly negative
role of the elder sister. Call it a coincidence but I bumped into Aruna Irani soon after and
asked her if she expected such an overwhelming response? “I didn’t frankly, because
after so many years before the camera I still feel that no artiste, no matter how talented is
capable of a good performance without the guidance of the director. The actor projects
the character but his understanding of the role is always limited as compared to the
filmmaker who sees it as a complete picture”.
To be continued

Movie Review: Love Aaj Kal (Day 1747)

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Film: Love Aaaj Kal

Release: 14.02.2020

Writer/ Director: Imtiaz Ali

Music: Pritam

Cast: Kartik Aryan, Sara Ali Khan, Randeep Hooda, Arushi Sharma

Director Ram Gopal Verma once told me that he reworked on his old subjects till he had conquered all the flaws which explains why he made so many films on the underworld. Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali probably weaves complicated love stories because he is forever in the process of decoding love.

In 2009 Ali served us a difficult watch called Love Aaj Kal where Jay/ Saif Ali Khan and Meera/ Deepika Padukone part ways and celebrate their breakup with a big bash inviting all their friends.

Now eleven years later, Ali brings another film with the same title and almost similar story where a software engineer Veer/ Kartik Aryan is madly attracted to a struggling event manager/ Sara Ali Khan and cannot stay away from her.

In 2009 Saif Ali Khan played a double role as Jay and as Veer/ Rishi Kapoor’s youth and in 2020 Kartik Aryan plays Veer and Raghu/ Randeep Hooda’s youth. Then, Jay was young and restless and Meera, more mature and composed, this time Veer is self-assured and Zoie is high strung.

It is not just the character names and personality traits that are confusing, the major problem is the complicated screenplay. There are parallel tracks of past and present intercutting scenes with frequent flashbacks and flashforwards which is not just distracting but also annoying. It is unfortunate because Imtiaz Ali is a champion of relationships and all his films (Rockstar or Tamasha) are a reflection of the complex, fragile, insecure characters and the nervous energy they bring to the scenes. His stories are about hope and despair, expectations, disillusionment and desolation.

Ali loves cafeterias, his love scenes and songs are usually around the cafes/ Tamasha, loves strangers becoming beloveds/ Jab We Met, thrives on incomplete communication/ Highway. He loves the mountains, the snow, soulful music and it is all there in Arijit’s voice and Pritam’s composition but you don’t connect to the film, cannot understand what is the issue.

Sometimes, when there is too much to tell you are unable to tell anything and probably that’s what has happened to Imtiaz Ali.

All the actors do their best, Arushi shines as a newcomer, Sara is a natural and Kartik emerges as a dependable actor.

I rate Love Aaj Kal with 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya  

Movie Review – Malang – Day 1745

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No Mazaa

Film: Malang

Release: 07.02.2020

Director: Mohit Suri

Writers: Aseem Arrora/story, Aniruddha Guha/ screenplay

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani, Anil Kapoor, Kunal Khemu

You either like thriller movies or you don’t and if you do, then you have an appetite for all thriller genres. Director Mohit Suri clearly enjoys making thrillers and has made an image for himself weaving intrigue and mystery into complex stories projected by complex characters be it Raaz or Murder 2.

His focus has always been relationships/ Wo Lamhe or Half Girlfriend and heaps it with family conflicts, personal insecurities, emotional drama and haunting melody. This time because the base is Goa he indulges in rave parties, alcohol, drugs, new friends, new love, adventure and loads of excitement!

Malang-Unleash the Madness is the story of Christmas night when a criminal/Aditya Roy Kapur recently released from jail calls a senior cop/Anil Kapoor and warns him of his murder plans. The first half meanders endlessly, is dull and scattered, the second half picks up in pace and action but fails in emotional connect. There are four gruesome murders and before that violent scenes packed with kicks, punches, pistol firing, torture and encounters!

Everything is cold blooded and mechanical, the dialogues are ineffective and the narrative does not engage you, even the music is disappointing except the remix score ‘Aaj ki raat koi aane ko hai’ that builds drama to some extent. Vikas Sivaraman’s cinematography is seductive and yes, the climax has some surprises.

Disha Patani as Saara suits the part, Aditya Roy Kapur has a new image of an action hero after Aaashiqui, Kunal Khemu is promising and Anil Kapoor as always steals the show.

In a party scene, Jessie, a drug dealer asks Saara, ‘Tumhe mazaa chahiye ya sukoon?’ Saara chooses mazaa but after watching Malang I am certain that I not visiting Goa for a long, long time. Now the choice is yours, if you want mazaa you can book your tickets for the film but if you want sukoon, please stay miles away from Malang.

I rate Malang with 2 stars.


Movie Review: Jaawani Jaaneman – Day 1741

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Watch it for Saif Khan and Alya

Film: Jawaani Jaaneman

Date: 31.01.2019

Director: Nitin Kakkar

Writer: Hussain Dalal/ story, screenplay. Abbas Dalal/ dialogues

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Alya Furniturewala

‘I want to discuss something personal with you’ says a young girl to Saif Ali Khan at the club. ‘Sure’ smiles Saif ‘should we go to my home?’ The young girl agrees. He organizes the lighting, pours some wine for both and is all geared up for action when she drops a bomb, says there are 33.3 percent chances that he is her father. The scene is hilarious and the film has quite a few of them.

 Jawani Janeman tells the story of a 40 plus London based Jasswinder Singh/ Jass/ Saif Ali Khan who celebrates his independence with a passion every night at the club while his mother worries if he is gay and therefore not inclined to marriage. Jasswinder’s older brother assures his mother/ Farida Jalal that her fears are unfounded and he is witness of his brother’s flirtations.

Jass is sensitive about ageing and visits the salon regularly to touch up his greying. He reserves one evening a month for a family dinner at his parents inclusive of his brother and sister-in-law. With such a packed schedule there is hardly any time for work but is shrewd to crack intelligent brokerage deals every time he finds a vulnerable client.

Jasswinder has no routine, no fixed income as a result he is often delayed in paying house rent and sometimes subjected to power failure because of electricity bill not being paid. Jass is not just irresponsible but seriously commitment phobic and incapable of adjustments. In his bohemian life arrives his young and sensitive daughter from the past Tiya/ Alya Furniturewala who is not just responsible but mature beyond her age.

Jawani Jaaneman is the story of a father-daughter but unlike other movies on the same subject becoming too intense, director Nitin Kakkar (Filmistan) addresses serious issues without melodrama or being judgmental. What works about the film primarily is the splendid humor and the fast pace. The film consciously omits out all the predictable moments making it an engaging watch till the end.  All relationships between all the characters are realistic and all conversations natural. The sets resemble lived in homes and costume reflect choices not just brand display.

The pace tentatively drops in the second half but the narrative adds excitement with sparkling performances. Kiku Sharda is fantastic in his one scene at the hospital and Kubra Sait as Jass’s friend has great presence. As the meditation queen Tabu is hilarious in a special appearance but the surprise packet is the utterly charming and natural Alya Furniturewala who debuts as Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Tiya.

What can I say about Saif Ali Khan, Khan breathes on screen which few artistes can do un-selfconsciously. This is not the first time he is playing the modern, urbane character and yet every time he brings that something special to his role. Jawani Jaaneman is a chilled out film for a chilled out audience. Do watch it with your beloved/ friend/ family even grandparents.

I rate the energetic, upbeat Jawani Jaaneman with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Happy Hardy and Heer – Day 1740

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Himesh Reshamiya seriously tries

Film: Happy Hary Heer

Release: 31.01.2020

Two characters with the same face, Happy/ Himesh Reshamiya who is settled in Punjab/ India and is a wastrel, his friends call him a loser. The other, Hardy/ Himesh Reshamiya is a top businessman in London and also a successful performing artiste. The consolation is that there is no connection between the two characters, no previous birth telepathy, no separation in childhood stories and no mysterious flashback of the mother.

The heroes meet only post interval and fortunately feel no sense of attachment, there is not the slightest curiosity about their identical appearance and no dialogues like ‘Tumhari shakal meri shakal se kyon milti hai’.

I was dreading to watch a Himesh Reshamiya film because indulging him as a singer/ composer is entirely different from watching Himesh Reshamiya as an actor and all experienced this over the years since Aap Ka Suroor /2007, Karz/ 2008, Xpose/ 201 and Tera Suroor/2016 so I was vastly relieved to discover that in 2020 Himesh Reshamiya has finally identified his USP and gone all out to projects it unapologetically.

The film is an extension of the actor – his brand of music, his style of dressing and dialogues, uninhibited and unpretentious. If you can accept this as part of Himesh Reshamiya person and let him weave his stories in his melodies, then Happy Hardy Heer is definitely entertaining with exotic locations and haunting music. As an actor Reshamiya has come a long way and seriously tries to give his best to his characters.

Some artistes are meant to fly solo and Himesh Reshamiya is certainly one of them, listing the demerits of the film will be taking the film too seriously and I don’t want to do that so I’ll him hum ‘Teri meri kahani’ and sign off  rating Happy Hardy Heer with 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya