A Critical Mind Part iv (Day 1492)

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Tell us more such stories?

The stories are made by the superstars. Their aura fills their followers with pride and love.

When Khuda Gawah was released and Amitabh Bachchan made an entry riding a horse, his arms out stretched out, a young girl ran from her seat to the screen her arms outstretched to embrace the actor on screen. The audience did not laugh at her, they applauded.

If you were stuck in a lift, who would you rather be stuck with: a director/ actor/ writer whose film you just panned

Why would I tell you and how do you know this has not happened to me!!

You know I don’t view it like that – who am I to pan somebody? I opine on what I agree/ disagree and they are at liberty to agree/ disagree with my critique. At the end of the day, it is a job and I am paid for it. I cannot be unfaithful to my job.


A movie watching experience that left you scarred for days after?

Sometimes a critic is not feeling well, not in a mood and has to go through unbearable films. Ram Gopal Verma’s Rakhtcharitra Part 1& 2 happened on such bad days for me. RGV says both these films are grossers but I found them unbearable in fact I still wakeup from my sleep thinking why I had to go through both these movies. I could have preserved my eyes/ brain and said no to review these films.




A Critical Mind Part iii (Day 1491)

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Which is the film you’ve watched most number of times?

I can watch Pakeezah again and again and every time I discover new facets to it, I think it is the most lyrical Hindi film in my experience. It is like the title suggests –pristine!


Between Popcorn and the Samosa, who wins with you in movies?

Hate both, none of them for me, hate Pepsi too or any aerated drinks. In the good old days they served adrak chai that was the best, in present times I prefer plain water and some nuts from my bag.  Now that home snacks are allowed inside theatres I often carry dhokla or thepla and quietly eat them when the hunger pangs summon.


What has been your craziest single screen experience? 

Single screen experience is as real as it gets – I love the claps and the whistles when the superstar makes entry on screen.  When they disapprove there are cat calls too and when they get overboard they throw coins! They are united in collective reaction and you cannot predict them. In the 70s when Deewar was released the lights went out just before the climax but the audience sat quietly for 30 minutes till the lights came on and the started again.


To be continued


A Critical Mind Part ii (Day 1490)

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How long do you take to write a review on an average? 

It depends, sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes it drags but a satisfactory review with all the markings, fact checking and corrections usually takes about 2 hours.


What is the maximum number of films you’ve had to review in a day?

I have consciously refrained from reviewing more than 2 films a day because I don’t believe in punishing myself. In my younger days however at film festivals I have watched 4 sometimes even 5 films a day. The eyes ached and the heart was overflowing with emotions but one continued to watch films because you were scared you will miss out on a good film. Not any longer, now I am more self -preserving.


Do you know how many films you’ve reviewed till date? 

No, I am not so vain to count my work. My mother taught me that if you count your money Goddess Lakshmi goes away so I don’t count reviews/ columns for I don’t want Goddess Saraswati to desert me. But I count my books and I want to write more and more…


What is the weirdest feedback you’ve received for your reviews?

You know, I have never received weird or even negative feedback for my reviews, I know it sounds immodest but most of the time people tell me they agree with my review even when I am not flattering to the filmmaker.


To be continued


A Critical Mind Part 1 (Day 1489)

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I have often been asked what goes on in a critic’s mind when he/she watches a film she has to review. Is it different when you are watching a film you are not going to write about? Is it always possible to be fair and neutral or do you soften when it comes to films of people who are your friends? How do you determine the rating of a film?

Some of these questions were raised in a wed chat show during the promotion of the Critics’ Choice Short Film Awards hosted by the newly launched The Film Critics Guild next week.

Over the next few days I will be sharing excerpts of the conversation:

  1. Do you remember the first film you ever reviewed and how long ago that was? No, because in the olden days that I did not do reviews of films but I shared my opinion on films I liked/ disliked in my editorial for the Screen weekly. Some of the films were reserved for a special mention in the Editor’s Choice. I started reviewing films officially in 2009 when 92.7BigFM asked me to do radio reviews of films and that too in Hindi. The first film I reviewed on the radio was Amitabh Bachchan’s Paa in 2009.


What is that one thing you cannot watch a film without?

There’s no such thing, I can watch a film anytime, anywhere.  I don’t need money because my ticket is usually an invite. I don’t need my phone because I disconnect it when the film commences, I don’t need glasses and I don’t need paper/pen because I never take notes. I am always worried that if I look down to write points I will something on the screen!


To be continued


Movie Review: Kedarnath

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Film: Kedarnath
Release: 07 December 2018
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Sara Ali Khan
Writer :Abhishek Kapoor- Kanika Dhillon

For pilgrims who come to Uttarakhand to visit the Kedarnath Temple and cannot climb the mountain there are pithus to carry them on donkeys and when the donkeys tire, the pithus strap the pilgrims on their backs and reach them to the temple.

Mansoor Ali/ Sushant Singh Rajput, has grown up in the mountains and carries pilgrims for a living but more for the joy he brings to their faces.

Mandakini/Sara Ali Khan is the Pandit’s daughter. Her family runs an in-house lodge and Mandakini and her sister assist their parents in the hospitality of the pilgrims.

Inspired from the 2013 floods in Uttarakhand writer Kanika Dhilllon and director Abhishek Kapoor weave a story of inter faith romance, of devotion and devastation.

The merits of the film are the beauteous locations, for two and half hours you are surrounded by the misty mountains and deported in a wondrous, fragrant land.

The film is clearly more than a love story, Kapoor addresses caste/class/ religion but also gender/ family and most important, saving of the planet!

There is an old belief that if you mess with nature then nature is going to mess with you and Kedarnath showcases nature’s fury!!

Kapoor layers his characters in complexities and adds undercurrents in all relationships so there is angst between the girls and the parents, conflict between the siblings and reservations from orthodox pilgrims towards their guides.

The demerits are the liberties we take in the excuse of commercial cinema so Sara Ali Khan is the only one in Uttarakhand who dons designer clothes and has a new outfit for a friend’s wedding and another opulent ghaghara for her own wedding.

The writing is not always coherent. There is no convincing reason why Mandakini is attracted to Mansoor Ali, no reason why she treks the mountain every day strapped on his back? Is she shopping grocery or plain dating and how come nobody in the region reacts to them even after the duo sing and dance at a friend’s wedding? Why does the village wait for the rainy night to talk about family honour?

Some dialogues are unclear, the climax elaborating on the floods and the rescue operation unnecessarily prolonged and the end scene ambiguous.

Nitish Bharadwaj and Gautami as Mandakini’s parents are well cast. Sushant Singh Rajput as Mansoor carrying pilgrims on his back in the biting cold to the top of the mountain is underplayed and effective.

Sara Ali Khan is the spice of Kedarnath; she has the poise of father/ Saif Ali and the spontaneity of mother/ Amrita Singh. Here is a complete natural, and what a relief to have a newcomer well versed with language and diction.

Watch Kedarnath for the beauteous Uttarakhand and for the courage and physical hardships endured while shooting this film.

I rate Kedarnath with 2.5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Marriage and forever (Day 1488)

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I saw the grown up side of her during the promotion of Bajirao Mastani when her co-star Ranveer Singh was being uncooperative and she was trying to trying to indulge him, trying to cover it up for him. She was proud of Bajirao Mastani but as excited about Tamasha and continued to own the film even though it was rejected by the box-office. I love Tamasha too and rate it among Deepika Padukone’s most complex performances.

In her wedding pictures Deepika appears radiant and her smile reaches her eyes…

Prasad Biddappa was right. There is something special about Deepika Padukone and you sense her radiance before she enters the room…

Sunita Gowariker is right too, she conquered show business faster than anyone had anticipated.

And Ranveer Singh is right too, the princess of Bollywood was meant to be his bride.


Finding Deepika (Day 1487)

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In a morning daily Deepika spoke about going through severe depression, about seeking a counselor. Everyone was astounded.  Her rivals called it a publicity stunt, and some said she was the face to advocate Mental Health issues. I don’t think it was a publicity stunt and even if she was paid to create awareness for Mental Health it is a courageous gesture that needs to be applauded.

Success numbs all perceptions and Deepika was at a point in her career when she could do no wrong. In 2014 came Finding Fanny and in 2015 another path-breaking film Pikku.

Suddenly, it was not just her fans and the media but the entire film fraternity who was reacting to Deepika Padukone. I remember meeting Rakesh Roshan at a party and he could not stop talking about her in Pikku. The overwhelming reactions from all over had kind of numbed her and a breakdown was inevitable.


To be continued…


Cocktail and more (Day 1486)

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Praksh Jha signed her for Aarakshan as Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter, her first with the mega star. I would say that Cocktail in the year 2012 was a turning point in Deepika’s career followed by Ayan Mukherjee’s Ye Jawani Hai Deewani and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela/ 2013.


This was the first time she was discussed as a sex symbol, the first time critics got up and made note of her and the first time she was on the list for The Best Actress in all the award events of the season. She looked radiant at all the public events and was the first choice of all her directors. She had everything that a young girl desired:  love, money, movies but clearly something was missing that nobody had noticed and discovered one morning…


To be continued…


Deepika: Highs & Lows (Day 1485)

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A few months later I bumped into Deepika again for Ashutosh Gowariker’s shooting of Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se in Goa. During lunch break and later I searched for tell-tale clues of a heart break up but Deepika appeared unusually composed! Clad in a Bengali sari and riding a bicycle for a scene she was the character without baggage!

There was a small difference though; now Deepika did not smile that often. The only time I spotted that famous dimple was when Ashutosh dragged her for an impromptu badminton game. Ashutosh joked that that he had signed Deepika so that he could play badminton with her. Deepika was amused and for the time that, she day laughed heartily!

Producer Sunita Gowariker told me that day that Deepika Padukone will emerge as the new Aishwarya Rai in a few years. “I can sense the same reserve and the steely determination. She is so focused and professional that there is nothing to stop her.”

The year 2010 was Deepika’s performance at the box-office  was far from promising – a crazy House Full, an insipid Lafangey Parinde, a dismissive Break Ke Baad and a disappointing Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se but yes, Deepika made sure she was noticed.

 To be continued…


Deepika Padukone : long, long ago (Day 1484)

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The first time I heard about Deepika Padukone was from fashion designer Prasad Biddappa,  this was sometime in the year 2006 when Padukone was signed by Shah Rukh Khan to play the lead in Om Shanti Om and Biddappa could not stop raving about her.

In the initial years Deepika kind of skip hopped success/ Bachna E Haseena and failures/ Chandni Chowk to China and was not exactly popular with the media. The glossies were only interested in her love angle/ Ranbir Kapoor and the critics not willing to indulge her till she did something significant. They appreciated her in Love Aaaj Kal and encouraged her for experimenting with Kartik Calling Kartik but Deepika still had a long way to go to earn their respect.

I met Deepika for the first time at Rishi Kapoor’s home when Rajee Singh, Neetu Kapoor’s mother passed away. We were all assembled in the living room waiting for the pandit to complete the formalities and in the adjoining room were Deepika and Ranbir’s other friends.

To be continued…