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






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


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.

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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.


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?

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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.


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.



Movie Review: Dear Maya is old world and charming

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Film Review: Dear Maya

Date: 03 June 2017

Director: Sunaina Bhatnagar

Cast: Manisha Koirala, Madiha Imam, Shreya Chaudhary

Rating: 2.5 stars


Maya lives in a sprawling mansion layered with cobwebs and not aired in years, she spends her day in the company of two dogs, one caretaker and many birds. Her neighbours in Shimla have never seen her in the courtyard or in the market. She spends her day stitching cloth doll, paints unsmiling faces and then ominously drapes them up in black shawls.

Anna a 9th-grade student at Loreto School is Maya’s adjoining neighbour and lives with her parents. Anna is insanely curious about Maya Devi’s intriguing past and shares minutest details with her friend Irra and the two of them come up with a plan to spice up Maya Devi’s drab life.  Their intention is noble but the plan misfires and the result are damaging!

Writer/ director Sunaina Bhatnagar has the ability to draw up unusual characters and dress them up in magical moments. Like Maya loves trees, plants, animals and birds but is allergic to people, crowd, noise, even sunlight. All the relationships in the film are special and writer very quietly and succinctly travels you into a world of roses and love letters, where passion reigns and hearts tremble.

The story travels from Shimla to Dilli and in a span of seven long years a lot changes in the life of Maya Devi, Anna and Irra. The film addresses many complex issues besides loneliness and deprivation. It mirrors complexity in friendship and most important, highlights a fast disappearing virtue in contemporary times called a ticking conscience.

All the performances – Anna’s parents, her Delhi boyfriend, her Shimla friend Irra are effortless and realistic. As Anna/ Madiha Imam enjoys the longest screen space and is a treat to watch her emote uninhibitedly.  Imam is wonderful when she cries, fights, laughs, sulks or romances.

Monisha Koirala portrays Maya Devi with alarming honesty.  Here is a performance completely devoid of vanity. When she is defeated, you feel suffocated and when she smiles, the skyline changes. There are immortal moments you carry home from the film. When she opens the stubborn windows and soaks in the sunlight. When she arrives in the big city and is forced to experiment with new cuisine. When she enters a store and pampers herself for the first time.

Part in Hindi and part in English, a wee bit new and a lot old world Dear Maya is a bit strange but a fragrant offering of present times. If you’ve been feeling low and want to change your perspective of life, drop a letter to Maya. I don’t need to share the address. It is showing at your neighbouring theatre.

I rate the upbeat Dear Maya with 2.5 stars.


Movie Review: Hindi Medium

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Film Review: Hindi Medium

Date: 19 May 2017

Director: Saket Chaudhary

Writers: Zeenat Lakhani, Saket Chaudhary 

Cast: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Deepak Dobriyal

 Rating: 3.5 stars


First thing first, after a long time comes a film where the title, the poster, and the content are in sync. It reminds you of Basu Chatterjee cinema where the message was paramount and the filmmaker unfolded a simple story that touched your heart.

Writer-director Saket Chaudhary has done this successfully in Pyaar Ke Side Effects/ 2006 and later in Shaadi Ke Side Effects/ 2014 but this time he surpasses all expectations as he chronicles the  pathos of Hindi speaking parents Raj/ Irrfan Khan and Mithu/ Saba Qamar struggling to find admission for daughter Piya/ Dishita Sehgal into an English medium school.

The admission is the single focus of their lives and to obtain it the couple is willing to go to any limits which include / long queues/ bribe/donation/ coaching class/ extracurricular activity and even a makeover of the image.

In the first half on the wife’s insistence, the couple shifts out of their ancestral home in Chandni Chowk to the elite Vasnat Vihar and live a branded life where they eat/speak/ dance in English and Mithu becomes Honey but the plan fails miserably.

Post interval, the desperate parents seek to final resort ‘Reservation Quota’ and move into a lowly neighborhood Bharat Nagar striving for daily wages/water and ration. It is in the slums in the company of Deepak Dobrial and family that Raj and Mithu learn lessons of life!

What works is the refreshing screenplay and novel characters. The hero is a flourishing businessman who sells original copies of acclaimed designers; his wife is a wannabe. Director Chaudhary with writer Zeenat Lakhani serves you an engaging narrative, packed with emotions and laced with delicious details right up to the ring tone of your hero.

Adding spice is Amitosh Nagpal’s dialogues and super timing of the actors and Sachin-Jigar’s music.

Irrfan Khan is adorable when entertaining his client at the shop, entertaining when addressing a call from wife as Mata ka bulawa and admirable as his indulgence alters to exasperation. As his dramatic/ambitious wife Saba Qamar is extraordinary but the one who breaks your heart and moves you to tears is the ever dependable Deepak Dobrrial!

So is there nothing wrong with the film, of course there is, the first half is stretched and the second half is predictable, particularly the long speech in the climax but the merits and the message outnumber the flaws. After a long time comes a film that is wholesome entertainment and addresses a conscience in crisis…!

A must watch for all parents/ teachers/ students so that we stop discriminating people by language.

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Movie Review: Half Girl friend or Half audience?

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Film Review: Half Girlfriend

Date: 19 May 2017

Director: Mohit Suri

Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor

Rating: 1.5 stars

 Madhav Jha/Arjun Kapoor has a problem communicating in English and convinces the faculty interviewing him for a college admission in Delhi to allow him to express in Hindi, they do and Arjun explains that that he wants to study sociology because he wants to change his village and India.

In the next scene, he is on the basketball ground trying to make friends with Riya Somani/Shraddha Kapoor.

The love story moves from the playground to canteen/ night outs and film shows and while he often tells Riya about his discomfort in English, we never see him encounter any problems during classroom/exams perhaps because it is not important to the plot.

Over to the hero and heroine, Riya thinks of Madhav as a buddy but Madhav thinks of Riya as a beloved and to avoid further misunderstandings, Riya has a solution: She tells Madhav that he can think of her as his Half Girlfriend whatever that means!

The biggest problem with the film is that it cannot determine whose story it is.

Is this the story of Madhav and Riya, then why complicate it with subplots of their parents? Is it is the story of Hindi v/s English or the small town/v/s big city divide, then why distract it with other issues like domestic violence/divorce/ girl child and yes even shauchalay??

The story travels from Delhi to Patna and Varanasi to New York and in every city there are two new songs, never mind that we don’t remember the city or the lyrics. Despite good compositions, good locations, successful stars and best efforts from all, the film make no impact!

Half Girlfriend is half baked, illogical and unconvincing…

Some years ago writer Chetan Bhagat wrote a book called Five Point, It is now time to address the same points to him:

Point 1: What is a Half Girlfriend and is it logical to define any relationship within boundaries? Point 2: Is a subject like this relevant in present times when youngsters are more buddies than lovers?

Point3: So what if a girl visits a boy’s Hostel and takes a nap in his room? Is it as dramatic as made out to be in your film? Does anybody in reality really care what happens with whom?

Point 4: Why is Riya judged as an escapist when she is the only character in the story who consciously concludes every relationship before terminating it?

Point 5: Is this really a love story because it seems more like Hide n Seek plot combined with Tracking Signs!

I rate Half Girl Friend with 1.5 stars and leave it to you if you wish to be the Half Audience of this film!


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