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Movie Review: Tumhari Sullu is delicious

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Film: Tumhari Sullu

Release: 17 November 2017

Producer: T Series

Writer/Director: Suresh Trivveni

Cast: Vidya BalanNeha DhupiaManav Kaul 

 

Sulochana has participated in every contest you can think of – Lemon &Spoon, Best Mummy, singing, compering, even embroidery and more often than not won the contest.  She is always at home but is far from the bored housewife because Sulochana (Sullu for the family) has a knack for keeping herself entertained.

If it is not her favourite channel on the radio, it is her daily visitor, a pigeon she chats with resting on the swing overlooking the window. She is always ready to chat up her airhostess neighbours and when they don’t pay heed she engages herself playing a prank on the local grocer.

Sulochana’s husband Ashok/ Manav Kaul is a supervisor in a tailoring factory and even though money is not in excess the couple is well adjusted in their modest life with their eight-year-old son in Mumbai’s faraway suburb.  If Manav is harassed by his boss at work Sulochana feels oppressed by her maiden family –her father, sisters and brothers-in-law who make her feel unworthy because she is not working and her husband is not in a flourishing job either.

One day, Sulochana wins a contest on the radio and has to visit the studio to collect her prize, a pressure cooker and auditions for an RJ job. She is inexperienced but is confident and has a great voice and the program head Maria/ Neha Dhupia chooses to gamble on her. The late-night show Tumhari Sullu is a super hit and Sulochana, an overnight star.

The best thing about the film is the detailed writing- all the characters, their interpersonal relationships, conflicts and insecurities. Woven in fragile moments and tentative moods, the script travels a tumultuous journey bringing the characters closer to your heart. They make you laugh, cry, sing and dance with them.

To define Tumhari Sullu as a film on gender gaze and aspirations will be unfair because it is much more than that, it is about changing perceptions, altering mindsets. Director Suresh Triveni takes up for often neglected homemakers and raises concerns.

  1. Right to expression – Sulochana desires a platform to express herself, a responsibility that makes her feel worthy and therefore turns down a mundane job even though the family can do with some extra money.
  2. Right to independence – Independence is not just economical but also mental and emotional. It changes your mindset and your worldview and which is what happens with Sulochana when she joins Wow channel.
  3. Right to sexuality – If men can celebrate their sexuality so can women and when Sulochana becomes RJ Sullu she is awakened to her sensuality and relishes it.
  4. Right to choice – It is for Sulochana to determine if she wants to continue or quit her career for the sake of the family and she is at liberty to choose whatever she desires.

Vidya Balan as Sulochana is par excellence and has you riveted to the screen and to her twinkling eyes. As her husband, Manav Kaul matches her in every scene, ably supported by Maria ma’am/ Neha Dhupia.

Rush to the nearest theatre to watch Tumhari Sullu with your entire family because I rate it with 4 stars out of which 1 star is reserved only for Vidya Balan.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

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Movie Review: Ittefaq (The plot changes)

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Film: Ittefaq

Release: 03 November 2017

Director: Abhay Chopra

Cast: Sidharth Malhotra Akshaye Khanna Sonakshi Sinha

Music: BT, Tanishk Bagchi

There is a story how original Ittefaq came about. BR Chopra was shooting Aadmi aur Insaan when his heroine of the film, Saira Banu fell ill and had to go abroad for urgent medical treatment.

Chopra didn’t want to sit idle for so long and on a friend’s suggestion went to watch a Gujarati play Dhummas based on a 1965 American murder mystery film Signpost Murder.

Chopra was impressed with the production and decided to make a film and was ready with the script the following week itself.  He cast newcomer Rajesh Khanna because he wanted to shoot immediately and got Nanda whose dates were available.

Ittefaq was released without songs and if I am not mistaken without an interval.

Now almost 48 years later, BRChopra’s grandson Abhay Chopra repackages the old premise to present Dev (Akshaye Khanna), a police officer, investigating a double murder case that has two witnesses and two prime suspects. First, Vikram/ Sidharth Malhotra, an acclaimed author, and Maya/ Sonakshi Sinha, a homemaker, both have different narratives about the fateful night and one out of the two is speaking the truth.

Abhay Chopra unfolds his story over three rainy days in Mumbai city and the narrative mostly comprises interrogation with the two suspects and reading between the lines. The downslide is the slow pace. The writing fails to build tension and grip you to the narrative.

The 1969 Ittefaq was path-breaking laced with sparkling performances from the ensemble cast. 2017 Ittefaq is left to a superlative Akshaye Khanna to hold fort. A devastatingly good-looking Siddharth Malhotra puts his best foot forward which cannot be said about Sonakshi Sinha who is poorly let down by the script.

The old Ittefaq was about deception and raised moral and social debate, so does the new one. Out of the two murders, two suspects and two , how do you determine the right from the wrong?

I rate Ittefaq with 2.5 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Tu Hai Mera Sunday Poster (1)

Movie Review: Tu Hai Mera Sunday

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Release: 06.10.2017

Director: Milind Dhaimade

Cast: Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswani, Avinash Tiwary, Vishal Malhotra, Nakul Bhalla and Jay Upadhyay 

Musician: Amartya Rahut

Tu Hai Mera Sunday is the story of five friends Arjun, Rashid, Domnique, Mehernoosh and Jayesh.

Arjun /Barun Sobti quit his corporate job to relish life as the consultant. Domnique/ Vishal Malhotra nurtures dreams to launch a band but that hasn’t happened as yet.

Rashid/Avinash Tiwari, owns of a laundry but has never dry-cleaned his home. Mehernoosh/ Nakul Bhalla is Chief Accountant in a company and hates his boss with a passion and finally, Jayesh/ Jay Upadhyay is a stockbroker who yearns for a hassle-free life.

In a city bursting with people and problems, the five find respite through a ritualistic game of football every Sunday at the Juhu Beach. Football is their passion and yet it’s not just the love of the sport that keeps them together. A freak accident on the beach puts a ban on all sports and now the friends loiter around the city hunting parks/ bridges/ lanes/ buildings for empty space to kick the ball play but there’s no such spot in Mumbai city.

Tu Hai Mera Sunday is more than a tale of friendship; it is about their extended families, their complexities, and dreams. It is also the story of Mumbai city, desolate, lonely and yet strangely compassionate.  Superbly written, innovatively shot, expertly edited, the film raises multiple issues ranging from gender gaze, seniors and caregivers, single parenting, sibling conflict, marital negligence and joint family responsibilities.

It is to costume designer Nyla Masood’s credit that the characters stroll from the screen and inhabit our hearts. The film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival in 2016 which says a lot for a film flanked by mostly newcomers except Shiv Subramanium and the absolutely brilliant Shahana Goswami.

I have not stopped smiling since I watched Tu Hai Mera Sunday and so will you.  I rate Tu Hai Mera Sunday with 4 stars.

 @bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Barreily ki Barfi is delicious

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Film: Bareilly ki Barfi

Date: 18 August 2017

Producer: Junglee Pictures, BR Studio

Director: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

Writers: Nitesh Tiwari, Shreyas Jain, Rajat Nonia

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Ayushman Khurana, Krriti Sanon, Pankaj Tripathi, Seema Bhargava

The man of the house is awake and is getting late to work but there is a problem, he needs a cigarette to relieve himself and he has finished his last one, so his daughter walks on the street and borrows an incomplete cigarette from a passerby to push it inside the toilet door to her anxious father.

This is just one of the many crazy things the family is capable of. On a bad morning, the daughter walks out of her home bag and baggage to board a train to nowhere but before that she purchases a book and is so engrossed in the story that she returns home instantly to share the details with her best friend.

Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has a unique way of introducing her protagonists the Mishra family to the viewers. Father Pankaj Tripathi is the liberal and laid back owner of a sweet shop, mother Seema Bhargava is in government service.

Daughter Bitti / Kriti Sanon holds an impressive profile that includes break dance, foreign films, in short, living life to the brim so it’s of little consequence that she holds a boring job of listing complaints of failing electricity in the city.

Bitti identifies with the heroine of the book and is curious to meet up the writer so lands up at the printing press owned by Chirag Dubey/Ayushman Khurana, a lover in mourning who initially forwards her messages to the author and finally packs Vidrohi from Lucknow to Barreily to meet her.

In the meantime, Mr & Mrs. Mishra who were initially attracted to Chirag as the potential groom for their daughter, now shift affection to Pritam while Pritam shifts affection to Rama and if all this is confusing then that’s the intention!

It is a love story with a message for life: that you will reap what you will sow and more important, appearances are deceptive as a result, Bitti’s mother whose hyper ventilating all day about her daughter’s delayed wedding, come night and she snores away to sleep.

Bitti’s father on the other hand, who is supportive of his daughter’s freedom, lies awake night after night on his bed talking to the ceiling fan.

The spirited Bitti who lives life on her terms has a repartee for every question including a candidate asking her if she’s a virgin, has no answers for her own fears.

Nor does Chirag the big bully who is self-absorbed to a point of destruction! It is a foregone conclusion that Pritam Vidyarthi is a loser but is that really true?

What’s in favor of the film is the extra-ordinary writing sprinkled with native humor and amazing insights. Barreily Ki Barfi is a story of mundane moments turned magical by unforgettable characters and sparkling performances from ensemble cast Pankaj/ Seema/ Krriti/ Ayushman,and the best of all Rajkumar Rao.

The minus is that the romance brings back memories of Saajan, Chitchor and Katha. The film has a slow start and the climax is predictable but you can overlook these minor flaws for the bigger picture.

Barreily ki Barfi is entertaining and when you emerge from the theatre, you carry home with you the entire Mishra family, their friends, and relatives.

Congratulations to the entire Barreily team for a film as delicious as Barfi. I rate Barreily ki Barfi with 3.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya/ @bhawanasomaaya

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review: Lipstick is about women power

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Film: Lipstick under my Burkha

Date:   21 July 2017

Writer/ Director: Alankrita Shrivastav

Stars: Ratna pathak Shah, Kokona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur

Ratings: 3 stars

Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Uunder My Burkha has been in the headlines for some time because of its ongoing battle with the CBFC. Set in the crowded by-lanes of small town India, the film chronicles the secret lives of four women in search of passion and dreams.

The oldest is the land lady of Hawa Mahal Ushaji/ Ratna Pathak Shah a middle-aged widow who spends all her free time reading erotic novels, as a result, finds herself attracted to her young and handsome swimming instructor. Suddenly Ushaji feels the need to look attractive again. Shireen/ Konkona Sen Sharma, mother of three boys who juggles her responsibilities with a secret part time job as a sales woman. Her husband works overseas and the only time he meets her is in the night in the bed.

Leela/ Aahana Kumra is the owner a beauty parlor, she is madly in love with her photographer friend and wants to explore the world but it is not that simple.

Plabita Borthakur’s college going Rehana has aspirations to become a pop singer and leads a dual life till she is ruthlessly exposed.

What works in favor of the film is that Shrivastava travels you into the crowded by lanes and gives you a glimpse of people’s lives and sufferings. For the kind of oppression, all of them go through Lipstick Under My Burqa could have been a dark, depressing film but Srivastava elevates her characters as free willed women and portrays their perils as humorous anecdotes.

Using lipstick as a metaphor the director comments on female sexuality, abuse in marriage and power play of parents in lives of unmarried daughters.  She addresses small town aspirations, peer pressure, and consumerism. In the climax, all of them come together not to mourn their loss but to move on with their lives and dreams superbly shot with fire crackers in the background.

The negative of the film are minor exaggerations necessary for the narrative which can be overlooked. All the performances are sparkling – Ratna Pathak Shah as the buaji living her sexual fantasies is both entertaining and vulnerable.  The always dependable Konkana Sen portrays scenes from a marriage while Aahana Kumara and Plabita the live wires reflect the angst of the youth.

Shot mostly in mid close Lipstick Under My Burqa is bold and intimate ready to challenge the patriarchal society. I rate Lipstick Unser My Burqa with 3.5 stars

17 monday

Tip tip barsa paani

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The rainbow has seven colours, the dancer on stage portrays eight roles, life offers nine emotions and the Hindu deity has ten avatars. Have you ever wondered how many shades exist to monsoon?  Hindi films portrays a million moments of this romantic season. In the coming days, I will unfold some mesmerising moments of the Monsoon Magic and will also share one favorite song and scene of the magical season.

My favorite song for today is Tip tip barsa paani

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My favorite scene: Nargis fighting to save their crop and field in Mother India.

For more on the #MonsoonMagic tune in @927BigFm Monday- Thursday all week.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram  @bhawanasomaaya

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Movie Review: Sridevi overwhelms as Mom

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Film: Mom

Date: 07 July 2017

Director: Ravi Udyawar

Writer: Girish Kohli

Music: AR Rehman

Stars: Sridevi, Adnan Siddiqui, Sajal Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Akshaye Khanna

Ratings: 4 stars

 

In a dark night on a lonely street, a car drives soundlessly fighting the lashing rains, after some time the vehicle stops and you notice from a top angle that the passengers have changed seats. The camera does not allow any invasion but AR Rehman’s melancholic score breaks your heart! This is just one of the many brilliant sequences in the film.

Mom opens as a family story where Devaki/ Sridevi is an empowered biology teacher in school. She likes to make the class interesting for her students so demonstrates the various muscles in a human body projecting a picture of Salman Khan. Her husband Anand/ Adnan Siddiqui is a globe-trotting business man. Over dinner at the dining table you sense tension brewing between the grown-up Arya/ Sajal Ali and her mother but it is subtle and underplayed and we have faith that the unrest will dissolve with time.

Misfortune always comes unannounced so while Anand is away on a tour Arya attends a valentine party and does not return home pat midnight.  A worried Devaki ventures to the farmhouse and later to the police station to finally locate her critical on a hospital bed!

The first half is superbly executed and breathless. Sridevi is chillingly dramatic be it her breakdown in the hospital, her outrage in the court or coping with a clinically depressed Arya at home. The second half unfolds as a revenge thriller gets predicable and overlooks pertinent details for example, it is a bit strange that none of Arya’s school friends ever come visiting her home. There are no inquiries from her school or the neighborhood and most important, no invasive media waiting outside their home which is unrealistic following such a big scandal!

There are no surprises in the plot because all of us are familiar with the story, rather read about it every day in the newspapers. Years ago Amitabh Bachchan starred in a similar story called Adalat and Raveena Tandon addressed the same issue a few months ago in her film called Maatr so what makes Mom special?

There are many pluses: the treatment, the projection, the pace, the energy and the expression be it Akshaye Khanna, Sajal Ali or the magical Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Monisha Baldawa’s editing and Anay Goswamy’s cinematography combined with AR Rehman’s heart-rending melody is a perfect backdrop to portray a flawless and scintillating performance from Sridevi.   You cry with her when she breaks down at the hospital, you are outraged when she is let down by the judiciary, you are humbled when she swallows her pride for her children and fearful when she dares into the devil’s den. Sridevi proves that 50 years and 300 films later she still has a lot to offer and English Vinglish and Mom is just the beginning.

I rate Mom with 4 stars and a big salute to Sridevi.

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Sen and Sensibility (Day 1125)

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Aparna Sen started their careers as actresses and moved on to direct films as well. With films like 36 Chowringhee LaneParoma, Mr & Mrs Iyer15 Park Avenue and so many more, as a filmmaker, Sen addressed issues that were rarely shared on screen. Her cinema reflected a point of view that connected with her audiences because they addressed issues often neglected by society like loneliness, old age, mental illness, female sexuality and desire and this continues to her last release Sonata.

ML_Konkona&Aparna_Picture(3)Daughter Konkana Sen has in a way followed in her mother’s footsteps, been an actor and is slowly diverting towards filmmaking. Konkona shares this desire to tell the untold story, make visible the unspoken or often deliberately ignored experiences be it through her characters as an actor or in her transition as director in A Death in the Gunj.

On 01 July the mother-daughter will come together on Mumbai Local 5 pm @Mcubed Library Bandra to discuss what it means to tell the story you feel must be told. They will discuss how cinema is demanding of them as people and as artists?

I will be there if I am in town for sure, will you?

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram  @bhawanasomaaya

 

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Movie Review: Behen Hogi Teri is wholesome entertainment

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Film: Behen Hogi Teri

Date: 9 June 2017

Director: Ajay K Pannalal

Producer: Odd Ball Motion Pictures

Stars: Rajkumar Rao, Shruti Haaasan

Ratings: 4 stars

 

Gattu is anxiously waiting for his friend Bhoora and as soon as he spots him, Gattu jumps out of the window and all of them escape to a secluded place. It is their Boys day out because if today they are visible anywhere in the neighborhood the dada-daadis and the naana-naanis will forcibly turn them into brothers of all the single girls in the locality. Today is Raksha Bandhan, the martyr day for the boys! 

Written by Viniteet- Rajat and directed by Ajay Pannalal Behan Hogi Teri is the love-hate story of Lucknow-based Gattu/ Rajkumar Rao and Binny/ Shruti Haasan, their friends, parents and extended families.

Gattu and Binny have grown up in the same mohalla and are accustomed to the seniors addressing them as siblings when the fact is that Gattu fantasises marrying his phataka Binny except that he does not have the courage to confess this to anybody including Binny!

What is appealing about the film is that it is a simple story of simple people who lead simple lives complicated by age-old conditions. Director Pannalal introduces you to the mindset and culture of Lucknow through his delicious writing and humour.  All his characters are uniquely original, be it hero’s father Darshan Jariwala, Gulshan Grover or the hero’s friend Bhoora or rival Rahul/ Gauutam Gulati.

All the actors are remarkable and deliver sparkling performances to an extent that there is really nothing to criticise in the film.

As Binny, Shruti Haasan is a spontaneous actor and breathtaking to look at. She is particularly amazing as the bride on the run when she depicts exasperation sitting on the bench without a single dialogue.

Rajkumar Rao who has so far excelled in histrionics, this time knocks us out with his super timing in comedy. His drunken brawl with his friend on the terrace late at night when he vents his frustration on Hindi film heroes is first rate and hilarious!

The story does not move out of the city of Lucknow in fact out of the mohalla and yet every moment is engaging!  There are no parallel tracks, no item numbers, no guest appearances and no superstars and despite it the narrative is thoroughly entertaining!

And most important, this is not a dimwitted entertainer without substance. The film raises an important issue like honour killing without being remotely preachy or didactic.

Behan Hogi Teri cannot be missed. Watch it with your sister, friend, beloved, rather your entire family. I rate Behan Hogi Teri with 4 stars.

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Movie Review: Raabta is old reincarnation in new bottle

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Film: Raabta

Date: 9 June 2017

Director: Dinesh Vijan

Producer: Maddock Films

Writer: Siddharth-Garima

Stars: Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon and Jim Sarbh

‘When did you arrive, sorry did not notice you’ says the girl in the chocolate shop to which the boy replies ‘A while ago, so what’s up?’ they strike a casual conversation like they’ve known each other for years. The camera does not freeze and there is no background score but you instantly know there is a back story to this relationship.

Predictably the hero lands at the shop the following day and walks the girl home, he is charming and she is amused by him. They kiss and confess, make love and chatter, eat and walk the streets welcoming the rain and the sunshine; both confess they have never felt like this with anybody before!

Passion is riding high and before they are swept off their feet, both decide they ought to pause and ponder and be sure if this is special. Coincidentally the boy leaves for a work conference and the girl missing him terribly, confides her story to a new buddy/ Jim Sarbh over dinner and drinks and that is the end of the dream!

Set in the picturesque Budapest  Raabta is a contemporary love story of Shiv/ Sushant Singh Rajput and Saira/ Kriti Sanon, a tale of chemistry and connection that all youngsters can identify with and simultaneously, a typical Hindi film reincarnation narrative.

What appeals about the film is the racy, refreshing first half sprinkled with sizzling dialogues by Siddharth and Garima expertly internalised by Sushant and Kriti. Adding intrigue to the romance is the haunting background score by Sachin- Jigar.

The negative is the second half that travels you into the past lives of the protagonists. You feel completely disconnected with the period set, their dialect and conversation and don’t feel anything for the characters.

Reincarnation is not a novel subject for the Indian audience. Over the decades we have watched many films related to past lives including Madhumati and Milan. Unfortunately, Raabta does not fall into the same bracket. Yes, the first half is engaging, new face Jim Sarbh stylish and lead pair charismatic.

Watch Raabta if you must for the vibrant presence and the palpable chemistry between Kriti Sanon aur Sushant Singh Rajput.

 

I rate Raabta with 2.5 stars.