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Movie Review: Badhaai Ho

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Film: Badhai Ho

Date: 18.10.2018

Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharm

Writers: Akshat- Jyoti- Shanatanu/ Story, Akshat Ghildial/ Screenplay, dialogues

Cast: Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Ayushman Khurana, Sanya Malhotra, Surekha Sikri

There are types and types of films, some films make you laugh, some make you cry, some entertain, some elevate and enrich you and some make you feel good but once in a while comes a film that makes you smile, choke and go back home singing.

Badhai Ho falls in that category and there are 5 reasons for watching this film:

Reason 1: The Subject: In so many decades of my writing on cinema I have never encountered a story as delicious. The idea is terrific and completely original and I will not be surprised if it is from a personal experience of the writer. A lot of filmmakers often come up with very exciting ideas but not all of them are able to translate that on screen, Badhai Ho is an exception because it connects to your soul.

Reason 2: The Treatment: The posters reveal it is a family story but this is clearly not the regular family drama or a mainstream masala and what makes it unique is the treatment.  It by-passes all the predictable lanes of genres, shot taking or story-telling as the camera has you hooked to an amazing narrative assuring that there is not a dull moment.

Reason 3: The Writing: A novel subject penned by three writers – Akshat, Shantanu and Jyoti and polished to perfection with the minutest detail and insightful dialogues by Akshat Ghildial. The film unravels two romances, introduces to two families, engages two cultures and travels two cities/ Delhi, Meerut and does not let you down in a single scene/ moment.

Reason 4: Performances:  Each and every actor is perfectly cast and this includes all the friends and all the neighbors. Sheeba Chadha has two scenes but is as effective in her silence as with her words. Sanya Malhotra as Rene is confident and sparkling, Sureskha Sikri as the grandmother is a riot. Gajraj Rao with his variety of expressions is an actor to watch out for and Ayushman Khurana once again steals your heart, he is particularly special when he is awkward!

As the pregnant mother who is also a wife/ daughter-in-law, mother of grown-up boys, Neena Gupta exceptional and as convincing whether she is happy/ sad/ angry/ seductive. The truth is you cannot look at anything else when Neena is on screen!!

Reason 5: The Director: Amit Sharma takes you through school fights, office culture, middle-class homes, and stylish parties. He treats you to cafes, street food,  makes you stop by the cozy kitchen, breathes beneath a starlit sky on a terrace never forgetting to include nature – lush trees, meadows or a flight of a pigeon.

Here is a director who can make you laugh without being comic and cry without a tragedy.  Badhai Ho is about relationships, about sensitivity, about humanity. Where were you Amit Sharma all these years??

I rate Badhai Ho with 5 stars.

Bhawana Somaaaya

Little Violet Blossoms

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The year 2018-19 was a milestone in the history of our Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary and marked its bicentenary year.

As a tribute to our Mother Foundress, St. Claudine Thevenet, St. Agnes’ High School, ventured into uncharted territory and produced a full-length feature film — The Little Violet Blossoms in association with Small Box Films.

Priyanka Tanwar, the director of the movie is an ex- Agnesian and has to her credit short films like Little Big George, My Pot of Gold and While it Lasts. The Little Violet Blossoms as she puts it is her pay off to her Alma Mater.

What makes the movie special is the fact that it’s the first time ever that a school has independently produced a full-length feature film. Most of the on-screen and off-screen crew members are students, teachers, parents, and ex-students of the school and shot school premises in just 28 days and premiers today.

 

@bhawanasomaayaa

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

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Twenty years ago when Aditya Chopra’s assistant and Yash Johar’s son Karan Johar announced that he was making a film everybody assumed that he was overconfident. Even his mother Hiroo Johar while doing his aarti before sending him off on his first day at work lowered her voice to gently whisper “I hope you know where to place the camera beta”.

Johar did not mind her caution and arrived on the sets fully prepared all the shots. He was privileged to have lead stars Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan pair in his film and he had signed Kajol’s cousin Rani Mukherji to play an important role.

He was confident of the music he had recorded and convinced about the story based on his personal experience at school. Now it was up to the actors to live up to his story and they did. It was a Diwali release I remember and everywhere Karan Johar went in those days, he was told how the film fraternity was banking on his film to revive the fortunes.

Come Friday and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998  revived the fortunes of not just film business but also his father’s banner Dharma Productions and in these 20 years Karan Johar has never looked back.

@bhawanasomaaya

Disney’s Stay Fit Challenge

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The Walt Disney Company believes in filling kids’ lives with hope and imagination through the magic of storytelling. As a part of their on-going healthy living initiative, Disney India has identified fitness as one of the key themes and propagating their new mantra ‘Staying Fit can be fun’.

As part of Mickey’s 90th Birthday celebrations for one of the most beloved animated characters in the world, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are leading the ‘Stay Fit’ activity by tutoring kids into easy-to-follow dance steps.

Disney India has screened a ‘dance along’ Mickey and Minnie video, demonstrating the specially choreographed dance routine and what’s more, this challenge has been taken up by many actors.

The initiative has been pitched to more than 3000+ schools; reaching out to 1.2+ million kids across the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore

@bhawanasomaaya

Film Review: Eela Helicopter

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 Helicopter does not fly

 Film: Eela Helicopter

Director: Pradeep Sarkar

Writer: Mitesh Shah, Anand Gandhi

Cast: Kajol, Riddhi Sen, Neha Dhupia

 

Pradip Sarkar directed Eela Helicopter tells the story of a single mother/ Kajol whose life revolves around her son Vivan/ Ridhi Sen.

She is obsessive to an extent that she senses him and always opens the house door before he can ring the doorbell.

Vivan loves his mother but feels stifled in her over concern and wants to run away only so that she can think of a life for herself.

The first half of the film elaborates and underlines a bit unconvincingly Eela’s over bearing invasion in her son’s life where she sniffs around in his bedroom, checks his phone messages and even eve drops on his conversations with friends.

The second half, where Eela decides to join her son’s college in order to complete her education, is further disappointing because it is irritatingly frivolous without any insights into the characters or their situations.

Director Ashwini Iyer had addressed the same subject with alarming sensitivity in Neil Battey Sannata a few years ago.

Unfortunately, nothing is right about Eela Helicopter – not the content, pace or the performances and the biggest defaulter is the careless screenplay devoid of any detailing, emotion or magical moment.

The title of the film is Eela Helicopter but there is no reference to a helicopter anywhere in the film. Also, it is a bit confusing whether this is a story about marriage or about motherhood because both are inadequately projected without complexities, layers or conviction.

The dramatic surprise post interval which should have been the turning point of the film is a disaster conveniently missed out by the watchman, the neighbor and the mother-in-law.

As audience, we wait for something to unfold via the father’s diary to his son but the son never reads the diary or probably the writer just forgot about it.

Eela lives in an apartment for over a decade but the set never resembles a home. She is into tiffin service but her kitchen never reflects her work.  There is a complete lack of effort and attention to define a graph in terms of costume/ hair and body language from the flashback to the present. There’s more, Eela pursues a career in singing but we never see her doing riaaz or practicing at home alone or under the supervision of a teacher.

The climax is so illogical that it is hilarious. The principal of the college protests when the organizers of the show change rule overnight. In the following scene, his student/ Vivan breaks protocol and hops on to the stage unscheduled to complete a family drama.

That’s not all, Eela who is backstage joins him from the audience singing loud and clear without a microphone and after her performance becomes a singing star!

Eela Helicopter is devoid of logic, emotion, and entertainment.

It is sad that the director who gave us Parineeta is either overconfident or underprepared.  Sad that Kajol is not in sync with the character and does not make a place in our heart.

I rate Eeela Helicopter with 2 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Movie Review: Tumbbad

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Film: Tumbbad

Date: 12.10.2018

Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi

Writers: Mitesh – Adesh – Rahi – Anand

Cast: Sohum Shah

 

Once Upon a time long, long ago, a remote village in Maharashtra is cursed by the wrath of the Gods that it will forever drench in torrential rains.

The village has a king addressed as Sarkar who lives in a sprawling mansion called Wada.

He has a caretaker, a young widow and mother of two who arrives every morning to attend to Sarkar and leaves before dusk.

The widow lives in a small Wada and attends to a mysterious captive in the house who the children have never seen but address as the grandmother.

On a stormy night after a tragedy befalls on the family, the widow flees to Pune determined to never return to the cursed land.

Not her son Vinayak though who is lured by the hidden treasures in the decaying estate and as his greed increases so do the miseries of the family.

The film journeys from 1933 to 1947 diligently captured by an extraordinary production design that recreate streets, vehicles, homes, costumes, even conversations from that era.

The narrative gets into the mindset and the lifestyle of both, the underprivileged and the affluent as the narrative travels you through crumbling mansions, cozy mezzanine floors and luxurious brothels.

There are robust love scenes, ugly fights and cruel decisions; here is a story of deception, greed and intrigue you can never imagine.

Splendidly written, artistically shot, tautly edited and devotionally composed Tumbbad keeps you perplexed till the end credits.

Supported by an ensemble cast, Sohum Shah as Vinayak delivers a pitch-perfect performance.

It does not matter how you classify this film – you can call it horror, you can call it folklore, a combination of both or none of it.

It does not matter that a lot of it is illogical, incomprehensible even inaudible. Perhaps the makers wanted it that way- to leave it unexplained.

What matters is that it is engrossing, at times terrifying and visually seductive!

If Hollywood presented a film penned by four, composed by three and directed by two we would be instantly curious.

Here is filmmaker Anand Rai offering support to an out of the box, non-starrer and producer/ actor Sohum Shah hanging on to his dream forever.

If Shah can dedicate seven years of his life to Tumbbad, we can certainly spare 1 hour 44 minutes to watch his labour of desire.

I rate Tumbbad with 4 stars.

(Watch out this space for the video link of my review on @TheMovieMotha/Youtube on Friday)

 

Bhawana Somaaya

Happy Birthday @SrBachchan

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When I was doing a book on him the enormity of the thought did not dawn on me but today when I look back I feel proud of my efforts, privileged to have spent so much time with him and documented milestones of his life.

 

My first book Amitabh: The Legend was an unplanned manuscript. Bachchan had not been talking to the media for almost 18 years and when he made up with the fourth estate there was no stopping him or us. The book is a result of all those interviews with the superstar combined with first person accounts of his leading filmmakers and heroines.

A decade later I was ready with another book Bachchanalia recaps Bachchan films from 1969 to 2009. This was essentially a coffee table book of Bachchan film posters and behind the scene encounters.

Two years later I was ready with my third book on the megastar Amitabh Lexicon which captures 2,833 headwords of the English dictionary into films of the actor spread over 41 years his magnificent career. It is a colorful joyride into Bachchan’s memorabilia.

Nearly every word in the English language could find its place in the cinematic vocabulary of Amitabh Bachchan. The book takes you through his various personas on screen – scenes where he made you cry, laugh, and all shook up. Like he says in his film Namak Halaal “Lo karlo baat…aree English to aisi ave hain ke that I can leave angrez behind… I can talk English, I can walk English, and I can laugh English…”

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Happy Birthday Rekha

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People call you a Diva today but you have been through a phase when they wondered if you had the making of a star. Some laughed at your filmmakers for signing you and others mocked at you openly because they knew you did not understand the language.

You ignored them all and step by step you learned the ropes of survival. As decades went by you became better than the best whether it was makeup, costume, hair.

You are in the true sense a self-taught artiste because you mastered the language, the dialect and the craft of acting. Dance was in your genes and the more you films you did, the more you blossomed.

So many decades have gone by but you still look ethereal and hearts still stop beating when you enter a room.

Most of them react to your beauty but since I have walked many miles with you I know that that there is a beautiful heart beneath that beautiful face that many people don’t know or don’t make an effort to know.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

Time for Dassehra

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Considering the censor board had a problem with Love Raaatri title I thought they would object to Dassehra as well but now that the trailer is finally out I guess Neil Nitin Mukesh and gang can heave a sigh of relief.

Neil Nitin Mukesh plays a police officer for the first time in his 11-year career and cannot stop raving about his director Manish Vatsalya. Written by Saurabh Choudhary Neil sports a moustache in the film and is excited to wear khadi and carrying a pistol on him like a Dabbang cop.

 Dassehra is a political thriller set against the backdrop of a politically destabilized state and dedicated to bureaucrats of India.

@bhawanasomaaya

 

Film Review : Andhadhun

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Date: 05 October 2018
Director: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Tabu, Ayushman Khurana, Radhika Aapte

Aakash wakes up early to practice his piano and has an attentive listener in his cat that jumps in from the window to spread herself in his house.

It is an 18 step staircase from his apartment to the ground floor and he counts them with a click of his stick every time he ascends/ descends the steps.

A small accident introduces him to Radhika Aapte who gets him a job as a pianist at her father’s restaurant. It is here that Aakash meets the 70s superstar/ Anil Dhawan and what follows is roller coaster ride of music, masti and murders.

A 19 second Amit Trivedi symphony is the turning point of the film and establishes Sriram Raghavan as a magnificent craftsman, easily the best in the thriller genre.

Raghavan presents a perfect coordination of characters, props, emotions and situations. Here’s a spine-chilling screenplay brimming with humor and razor-sharp editing.

Most filmmakers either get the first half or the second half, there are some who are master technicians and some better storytellers but Raghavan combines erotica, intrigue, pace, morality, music, nostalgia to serve you a delicious platter you cannot resist.

Unpredictable and full of twists and turns, the best part of the narrative is that the viewer is a participant in the plot and knows as much as the characters. That does not mean there are no surprises because the director holds the final card to himself till the end.

There are as such no negatives in the film but it is unusual that a film star has no staff at home or that a blind musician has no domestic aid to even shop his groceries but these can be overlooked for the adventure that unfolds..

The music is the soul of the film and all actors are aptly cast particularly Anil Dhawan in all his old songs. Radhika Aapte is spontaneous and Tabu, Ayushmann have you guessing till the end but the film finally belongs to the director and his technical team.

From Ek Hasina Thi in 2004 to Badlapur in 2015 Sriram Raghavan is a revelation. Andhadhun is unpredictable, adventurous and full of fun. It is a celebration of cinema and cannot be missed. Wait for the end credits paying tribute to Chitrahaar and Chaya Geet.

I rate Andhadhun with 4 stars