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Arjun Kapoor to essay Intelligence officer

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

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

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

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: Dhadak

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Film: Dhadak

Writer/ Director: Shashank Khaitan

Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khatter,Ashutosh Rana

Music: Ajay-Atul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I rate Dhadak with 3.5 stars.

Movie Review: Race 3 is so absurd that it is cathartic

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Film: Race 3

Date: 15 June 2018

Director: Remo D’Souza

Writer: Shiraz Ahmed

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Movie Review: Veere Di Wedding

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Release: 01.06.2018

Director: Shashanka Ghosh

Writer: Nidhi Mehra, Mehul Suri

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I rate Veere Di Wedding with 2 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero

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Release: 01.06.2018

Director: Vikramaditya Motwane

Writer: Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap, Abhay Koranne

Cast: Harshvardhan Kapoor, Nishikanth Kamat

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I rate Bhavesh Joshi Superhero with 2.5 stars

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review: 102 Not Out

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Film: 102 Not Out

Release: 04 May 2018

Director: Umesh Shukla

Writer: Saumya Joshi

Music: Salim–Sulaiman

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I rate 102 Not Out with 3 stars.

 

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

unnamed @bhawanasomaaya 

Singer Bachchan

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If there is one thing Bachchan enjoys even more than acting is singing. The first time he lent his voice as playback was for a song ‘Mere Paas Aao…’ from Mr Natwarlal (1979) ever since more and more filmmakers have asked him to sing in their films. ‘Neela Aasman So Gaya…’ and ‘Rang Barse…’ from Silsila (1981), later he sang ‘Mere Angne Mein..’ from Laawaris (1981) and ‘Main Yahan Tu Wahan…’ from Baghban (2003) recently he rendered tracks like ‘Ekla Cholo Re…’ from Kahaani (2012) and ‘Piddly Si Baatein…’ from Shamitabh (2015) in recent years.

Now, in his upcoming film 102 Not Out, directed by Umesh Shukla, Bachchan has created the track Badumbaaa and sung it along with his co-actor Rishi Kapoor. Now we hear that Bachchan has sung a new rendition of the timeless classic, ‘Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam…’, from the movie Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959). The song was arranged by Rohan Utpat and Vinayak K Salvi.

There is so much to learn from the unstoppable Bachchan, he is productive every moment of his day and every phase of his career.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Movie Review: Daas Dev is dark and oppressive

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Film: Daas Dev

Date 27 Aril 2018

 

Director: Sudhir Mishra

Cast: Richa Chadda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Rahul Bhat. Saurabh Shukla.

Music: Vipin Patwa, Sandesh Shandilya, Arko Pravo Mukherjee,Shamir Tandon, Anupama Raag.

Little Dev is hiding near the pond, puffing a cigarette behind the bushes, soon little Paro joins him and insists on trying a puff as well or she will complain about him to his parents.

In a way the scene sets the tone for the irreverent take of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic.

In the 105 years of Indian cinema Sarat Babu’s novel Devdas has captured the imagination of several filmmakers in several languages.

If K L Saigal immortalized the character pre-independence, for the independent nation Dilip Kumar is the hero they hated to love in Bimal Roy’s version and Shah Rukh Khan film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s portrayal of Devdaas in the new millennium.

There were some who did not use the characters but based the story on the same relationships like Prakash Mehra’s Muqadar ka Sikander and Anurag Kashyap’s over the top Dev D.

Now writer director Sudhir Mishra comes up with yet another version as Daas Dev. The modern hero embraces not just alcohol but all the possible vices – drugs, lust, power and violence.

Unlike the original hero, Daas/ Rahul Bhat, is not an escapist far from irresponsible. He is committed in relationships and not a wastrel, which is refreshing.

Richa Sharma/ Paro and her family do not live across Dev’s home as in Sarat Babu’s book but inside Dev’s magnificent mansion in a two and half room donated by Dev’s family.

Paro is haughty and unafraid. In an interesting twist of a memorable scene in the original, this time it is not Paro but Dev who visits her chamber at midnight and it is no big deal!

Eventually she marries an older man/ Ram Ashrey and for the sake of justice jumps into the cesspool of politics.

Chandni/ Aditi Rao Hyadri unlike Chandramukhi is not just twinkle toes but a big player in the dangerous game.

Sarat Chandra’s Devdas was about love and yearning. Sudhir Mishra’s Daas Dev is about power and ambition.

What is attractive about the film is the irreverent interpretation. Dev is volatile, complex but also vulnerable.

On the flip side the film is unusually long and unnecessarily violent. Every frame is dark and depressing and poetry of prominent writers play as background score in almost every scene which is oppressive.

The actors try their best to engage you with their performances but the politics dominates every emotion. This is not a story about love and longing rather it is about deception and betrayal.

Don’t know about the others but I think I have had enough of the UP politics, the guns and the cuss words.

Watch Daas Dev only if you are interested in UP politics

I rate Daas Dev with 2 stars.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Movie Review: Pad Man is revolutionary

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Film: Pad Man

Date: 09 February 2018

Writer/Director: R Balki

Producer: Funny Bones Production

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte

Gayatri/ Radhika Apte is on the giant wheel with her husband when she senses something amiss…

In another city, Rhea/ Sonam Kapoor is in the middle of a concert when she suddenly turns pale…

For both, it is that time of the month and as always it has come unannounced.

Pad Man is the story of Gayatri, Rhea and millions of women but primarily the story of Lakshmikant/ Akshay Kumar who lives in a remote town with his aging mother, wife and two sisters.

It is the family tradition that a menstruating woman must stay 5 days in isolation. Lakshmikant disapproves of this. He wants to safeguard his wife and sisters from infection and taboo but he is scoffed at and shunted by everybody.

In my opinion, there are 4 major reasons for watching the film:

  1. Path-breaking subject: Subjects like these are usually featured as documentary or as adv films. Producer Twinkle Khanna pitches Tamil Nadu’s social activist Arunachalam Murgunanthanm as a mainstream hero and makes Pad Man world’s first feature film on menstrual hygiene.
  2. Spreading awareness: For centuries we’ve cloaked the topic in intrigue and superstitions, for the first time comes a film that liberates a woman from age-old conventions. Pad Man spreads awareness in villages and small towns, enlightens men, empowers women, educates children, engages professionals as in doctors/manufacturers in a techno- digital new India.
  1. Raises issues: Yes, it is the story of a woman’s biology but the one fighting for her dignity is a man. Lakshmikant Chauhan challenges his family, neighborhood, society/ religion/ tradition, willing to be ostracized but unwilling to give up on his goal.
  1. Performances: As Gayatri, Radhika Apte and as Rhea, Sonam Kapoor are effective foils to a courageous protagonist Akshay Kumar who absorbs Lakshmikant without the slightest inhibition and breaks the audience’s defenses as well.

R Balki’s Pad man is sensitive, emotional, engaging, responsible, courageous and entertaining. It is a film you can watch with your entire family.

I rate Pad Man with 4 stars.

@bhawanasomaaya

Pad Man was envisioned to an be awareness film without focusing on commercial aspects. The producers’ main agenda was to reach out to a wide audience to create awareness and eradicate prevalent superstitions in India surrounding sanitary pads.

Movie Review: Tumhari Sullu is delicious (Day 1224)

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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