Sunday, December 27, 2015

Movie Review: Bajirao Mastani

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The Story Frame:

Bajirao Mastani is the story of the 18th-century Maratha Peshwa Bajira Ballal Bhat, who fought valiantly to matrialize his dream of a unified Hindu Kingdom. It is the return of Sanjay Leela Bhansali with yet another intriguing epic story with all its cinematic extravaganza. The film doesn't claim to be historically accurate and it depicts a disclaimer saying that it has taken creative liberties in portraying the life and times of the warrior.  Based on the Marathi novel 'Rauu' written by Nagnath S. Inamdar, the movie narrates the love between Bajirao and his second marriage with a half Rajput and half Muslim princess Mastani.

Cast: Ranveer Singh (Bajirao), Priyanka Chopra (Kashibai), Deepika Padukone (Mastani), Tanvi Azmi (Radhabai), Aditya Pancholi (Shilpat Rao), Milind Soman (Advisor and Friend), Vaibhav Tatwawdi (Chimaji Appa), Ayush Tandon (Nana Saheb, son of Bajirao), Mahesh Manjrekar (Chhatrapathi Shahu Maharaj), Raza Murad (Nizam of Deccan),

Genre: Period Drama

Direction: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Produced by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kishore Lulla

Production Company: SLB Films

Distributor: Eros International

Written by: Prakash Papadia

Screenplay by: Prakash Kapadia

Story based on: 'Rauu' written by Nagnath S. Inamdar

Cinematographer: Sudeep Chatterjee

Music: Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Assisted by Shreyas Paranik)

Background Score: Sanchit Balhara

Film Editing by: Rajesh G Pandey

Theatre Release: 18th December, 2015

Language: Hindi

Duration: 158 minutes

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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Irrfan Khan's beautiful narration takes you through the life and times of Bajirao Mastani till the end of the movie. Who cares for the historical accuracy of Bajirao Mastani, what counts is the grandeur and opulence Sanjay Leela Bhansali indulges in to present his story on the silver screen.  Bajirao is yet another visual spectacle that mesmerizes the viewers with its fabulous portrayal of the life and times of Maratha warrior Bajirao. It is a clear take on religion and orthodoxy in the garb of portraying a Hindu-Muslim love story. Bajirao Ballal Bhat the legendary warrior-hero is hell bent to establish the supremacy of Hindu Rashtra across the subcontinent and want to see the Maratha flag flutter at Dilli. Sanjay Leela Bhansali intelligently and aesthetically handles and portray both the rise, triumph of Peshwa Bajirao as well as his turbulence in his married life because of his love and affection towards Mastani, the beautiful, dare-devil warrior, half Rajput and half Muslim princess of Bundelkhand.

It won't be an exaggeration to admit that it becomes hard to even imagine any other actor in the place of Ranveer doing justice to the role of Bajirao. Ranveer sway you by his terrific acting, he makes you confident by his patriotic dare-devil acts against his enemies, and more over make you fall in love watching the romance and commitment of Bajirao and Mastani. He is convincing in his Marathi lingo while he delivers lengthy dialogue to his enemies, army men, family members and his ladies in love.

Ranveer Singh has undoubtedly evolved as an actor after every film and his growth as a bankable actor is really commendable. I must say that Bajirao has won the baaji against Dilwale and it has added more brownie points to Ranveer's kitty. His dilemma in love between his wife and his accidental wife Mastani because of some unknown tradition he followed in his act of chivalry and enthusiasm is well enacted. His rise to the post of Peshawa under Chhattrapathi Shahu (Mahesh Manjrekar) and his encounters with his opponent Shilpat Rao (Aditya Pancholi) is quite watchable and keeps the viewers engaged.

Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai, wife of Bajirao brings elegance and grace to her character. She makes us connect with her in her act as a beloved wife whose world is just her husband and his triumphs as a warrior. She makes you feel through her emotional turmoil when she comes to know about Mastani and her husband's love for each other. She beautifully expresses through her eyes and her mannerisms her vulnerability, helplessness and occasional victory in keeping Mastani at bay. Priyanka is outstanding in the role of Kashibai. She is a notch better in dancing and expressing than Deepika Padukone.

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Deepika Padukone as Mastani the Bundelkand Princess is good as a warrior pricess but fails to generate the off-screen chemistry with Ranveer on screen. She may have to hone her dancing skills. The 'Pinga' act fails to match the beauty and energy of Devda's 'Dola re' of Aishwarya and Madhuri Dixit. Nevertheless, Deepika to a greater extend manages to pull through as Mastani because of an ensemble of talented actors around her. She does evoke feelings at certain occasions but then fails to hold on in the act.

Tanvi Azmi as the widowed mother of Bajirao has done a commendable job. Tanvi as a tonsured lady calling the shots and trying all means to control her strong-willed son Bajirao from breaking the traditions of Peshawas comes out so well that the viewers love as well as dread the lady. She is compelling as Radhabai in her power-packed performance.

The movie has some awesome performance from Vaibhav Tatwawdi as Chimaji (Brother of Bajirao), Ayush Tandon as Nana Saheb (Son of Bajirao), Milind Soman as the friend and trust worthy advisor of Bajirao.

Sanjay Leela Bansali has beautifully portrayed the role of religion and the clergy in politics then. And it reminds us that there is nothing to be surprised of the role they still play in the contemporary society too and the kind of manipulation they do to safe guard their power and say in the day-to-day conduct of governance.

In short, Bajirao Mastani is a must watch, not to know the historical facts of who and what Bajirao was but to see how historical characters can be fictionalized and made to be so interesting to watch on screen. Kudos to Sanjay Leela Bansali and his filmmaking abilities. The songs are too good. You can give a miss to 'Dilwale' dilse and watch 'Bajirao Mastani' masti se at a nearby theatre because it is for sure a paisa vasool film.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Movie Review: Angry Indian Goddesses

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The Story Frame:

Angry Indian Goddesses depicts the plight of women in a male dominant society where they are either seen as commodities or are expected to be subservient. The plot hovers around seven women who come together in Goa on the invite by their college friend for reasons not known to them till they reach and meet her. The story's women characters come from different walks of life and has their own individual ups and downs in life to share, through which the film catch momentum. An unwanted incident rocks the boat of all these beautiful girls' life.

Pan Nalin's film has a compelling message and it brings us face to face with the reality of our society and makes us reflect to think what kind of bonding and relationship do we want as Adam and Eve in our Eden. Pan Nalin's movie is considered as the first all-out female buddy movie and it is also his debut in mainstream Hindi Cinema.

Cast: Sarah-Jane Dias (Frieda), Tannistha Chatterjee (Nargis), Anushka MAnchnada (Mad aka Madhurita), Sandhya Mridul (Suranjana), Amrit Maghera (Joanna), Arjun MAthur (Zain), Rajshri Despande (Lakshmi), Pavleen Gujral (Pammi), Adil Hussain (Police Superintendent
Genre: Drama

Direction: Pan Nalin

Produced by: Gaurav Dhingra

Written by: Arsal Qureishi

Story by: Pan Nalin

Cinematographer: Swapnil Suhas Sonawane

Music by: Cyril Morin

Film Editing by: Shreyas Beltangdy

Presented by: Protien Entertainment

Production Company: Jungle Book Entertainment

Theatre Release: 4th December, 2015

Language: Hindi

Duration: 115 minutes

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 Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Pan Nalin's Angry Indian Goddesses is a movie that makes the society to relook the way it treats and view women in their life and around them. It is also a wakeup call for women in general to reflect what and how they want to liberate themselves from the misogynistic oppressions and restrictions. To depict the lives, aspirations and dilemmas of women Pan Nalin gathers seven women from different walks of life to give the audience a bird's eye view of why the Indian Goddesses have a right to be angry. The Angry Indian Goddesses in the movie are Frieda (Sarah Jane-Dias), an ace photographer who is known for her job; Suranjana (Sandhya Mridul) a corporate honcho who is always on her toes and phone to get things straight and is struggling hard to balance her personal and professional life commitments; Pammi (Pavleen Gujral), a Delhi homemaker and a gold medalist in studies who is dictated and nipped by her hubby for her entrepreneurial aspirations; Mad (Anushka Manchanda), a rocker who is insanely depressed because of her spiraling career; Joanna (Amrit Maghera), a half-Brit Indian aspiring actress who is in hope for a big break in the tinsel town; Laxmi (Rajshree Despande), Frieda's all-rounder maid, who has her own family issues that doesn't seem to resolve; and finally Nargis (Tannistha Chatterjee) the firebrand activist who is a potential threat for corporate land grabbers like Suranjana who are blindly ambitious and task oriented. To add to the fun and frolic there is Maya, the six-year old lonesome daughter of Suranjana.

The movie begins with a series of introductory scenes for its lead actors to depict their varied backgrounds and then focuses on all of them reaching to Goa on the invite they receive from their college best friend Frieda.

The film portrays the camaraderie amongst the girls and their squabbles on various matters of life very well. The reason behind the invite for all the friends except the host, her maid and the activist is not known. They only come to know it later that Frieda is going to tie the knot with her beloved and who is the lucky one is under wraps.  The bunch of girls in Angry Indian women are full of fun, uninhibited, open to the world and like to explore life. But they all carry a deep wound in their heart which is slowly unveiled at various phases of the story and it takes momentum that culminates into an incident that justifies why Kali the angry goddess becomes so relevant to the story telling.

Pan Nalin seems to package too many issues into Angry Indian Goddesses like gender discrimination, rape, eve-teasing, homosexuality, land grabbing by corporate, section 377 and that's where the film run out of steam. It appears that the filmmaker feels that this is the only last opportunity left to talk about all these issues and therefore, fill it to the brim and push it down the throat of the viewers.   

Having said this, the film is good to watch because of the message Pan Nalin wants to convey through his beautiful ladies and their life on screen. The song 'Pal mai samjthi hi, pal mai badalthi hi tu ... Zindagi" is too good and hummable. Adil Hussain as the Superintendent of Police is there for a brief period but is able to evoke the right kind of hatred to his creed that believe a woman who drinks, smokes, moves around alone or in groups having fun, dress as per her choice is the reason for atrocities against her.

The climax of the movie is flawed especially the church scene, where people stand in solidarity to these women without even knowing what has actually transpired between the Police officer and the women in question. May be Pan Nalin wanted to portray a symbolic gesture of solidarity to the cause he has voiced through his film but I feel it doesn't come out well when it is seen logically and sequentially with the happenings in the film.

With all its areas of improvement, ultimately Angry Indian Goddesses definitely deserves a onetime watch for its message. So go to your nearby theatre and watch the Indian Goddesses getting angry while you munch over a pack of flavored popcorn with your friends and family.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Movie Review: Kajarya: Let the Truth Prevail

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The Story Frame:

The film Kajarya is a distressing story of a rustic village in Haryana where female infanticide is normal. Kajarya represents the vices of the society which we as humans are striving hard to get rid off but are repeatedly failing to wipe out this menace and inhuman act of gender inequality.

Kajarya is the stroy of a child widow who grows up to be the representation of Maa Kali who blesses villagers with the boon of having male child in their family and sacrifices girl child as a customary act every now and then in a year as part of Kali Puja. The writer-director Madhureeta Anand dares to talk about the ugliest truth of our nation and society in her second film Kajarya. Millions of girl child go missing in our country, millions of girl infanticide happen and more over millions are raped. Meenu Hooda as Kajarya is worth mentioning for her titular role and the rest of the cast has done justice to their roles.

Cast: Meenu Hooda (Kajarya), Ridhima Sud (Meera Sharma), Kuldeep Ruhil (Bhanwari), Shambhu (Shashi Bhushan), Sumeet Vyas (Nikhil), Nasir Ali (Sub-inspector), Manoj Bakshi (Police Inspector),

Genre: Docu-Drama

Direction: Madhureeta Anand

Produced by: Madhureeta Anand, Tilak Sarkar, Celine Loop, Qaushiq Mukherjee (Q)

Written by: Madhureeta Anand

Music by: Richard Horowitz

Cinematography: Alok Upadhyay

Film Editing by: Anuradha Chandra, Shyamal Karmakar, Manas Mittal

Theatre Release: December 04, 2015

Language: Hindi

Duration: 134 minutes
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Kajarya is a hard-hitting truth of female infanticide happening in our country unabated even when the law claims it is against any such act of inhumanity and gender inequality. Madhureeta Anand dares to bear to the society how harsh, rude and unapologetic men are when they ensure to be fascistically dominant in all matters of life.

Kajarya the pivotal character enacted by Meenu Hooda is intriguing, she evokes hatred, despair, helplessness and empathy at the same time effortlessly do justice to character she plays. Kajarya from a 13 year-old widow to a love-struck girl in the arms of Bhanvari (Kuldip Ruhil) and then on being a victim of manipulation and exploitation in the name of religion and custom is heartrending to watch. Kuldip as  the lover, exploiter, manipulator and her tormentor represents our mysogynistic society very well.

The world likes to sleep on the darkest and ugliest truth of women atrocities happening in our country and likes to push it under the carpet because it pricks their conscience. Therefore, they like to embroider the truth to make it convenient giving it the name of religious/social customs and traditions.

Kajarya builds a strong ground for a gripping and disturbing reality of a particular state which is already under the lens for its fast reducing women population in the society but then the filmmaker and the story falters in many areas. The film fails to justify the transformation in Kajarya from a ruthless, angry, helpless, exploited infant killer to a self-repenting, confessing and reflective woman. The transformation part is not well-build and conveyed.

Kajarya is heavily drugged with alcohol laced with opium everyday since many years and she is shown abstaining from all these one-day. Her struggle to come out this deadly habit is not supported with appropriate scenes. The transformation just happens because she comes across a reporter or is it because her judicial confinement or is it something else? There is no such empathetic dialogue or conversation that happens between the reporter (Riddhima Sud) to make the transformation happen, rather the reporter is found breaking the trust of Kajarya by coming under pressure of her bosses by revealing Kajarya's name and drawing the media attention to her. The film raises a serious point '"Is there anything like ethical journalism"? In fact, she is shown abusing and spouting expletives to Meera Sharma the reporter in the court premises when she is produced for trial. Ridhima Sud the Dil Dhadakne Do debutant girl does a decent job but could have been far better in her act as reporter and a girl representing women who are actually fence-sitters.

The love-hate relationship of Kajarya and her lover turned tormentor is not well translated because the viewers fail to understand when and how the love equation between the two went sour. There are too many things the film wants to convey like the rich boy-friend (Sumeet Vyas) of the reporter and his family's attitude towards female infanticide and women as such, the plight of the reporter's mother at home, the sensational news  seeking media bosses and the reporter herself as not so empathetic towards the victim and her desire to be in the lime-light for her story could have been more beautifully build. It seems the film fails and falters to stitch together logically and sequentially all that it wants to convey to its viewers.

What is worth watching is the relationship of Kajarya and Shambhu the village hangman and Kajarya's connect with his daughter is beautifully portrayed. In the world of doubt, exploitation and deceit there are Shambhus who do their act of humanity in silence.

Nevertheless, Madhureeta Anand's Kajarya needs to be watched not to talk about it's flaws but to reflect and act upon what she wants to convey to us. Madhureeta Anand portrays both the urban and the rural mindset with great ease. Ten million baby girls killed since 1986 in our country, three million in the last decade alone. Beti Bachao cannot just happen by a selfie with your daughter or through announcing some so-called vote bank schemes but getting down to the ground reality, rolling our sleeves to get rid of this blatant and unabated act for ever. We as a society and responsible citizen needs to reach out to women like Kajarya who becomes an easy prey and a scapegoat for all directly and indirectly involved in female infanticide in the name of religion, family traditions, and vote banks. Let's start this from our very own home.

The song by Lata Mangeshkar "Mohabbat Ki Jhooti Kahani Pe Roye" is well placed and it tugs at one's heart. The back drop of the movie is a rustic village in Haryana. Amardeep's production designs, Urvashi Bhargava's haryanvi attires, Alok Upadhyay's cinematography with Richard Horowitz's background score blends well.

Go and watch "Kajarya: Let the Truth Prevail" for its compelling message and it's realistic portrayal of the ugliest and harsh truth of our society.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Movie Review: Tamasha

The Story Frame:

Tamasha is the latest movie from the stable of Imtiaz Ali who gave us several hits in the past. The movie features Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor as lead actors. The story is about Ved Vardhan Sahni played by Ranbir Kapoor who goes through the dilemma of finding his true self and at the same time being constrained to perform according to the expectations of the authority figures in his life. Ved's life is tremendously influenced by the stories he use to hear from a mystic story teller and he decides finally to weave his own when he comes in contact with Tara Maheshwari played by Deepika Padukone. The film has a beautiful message that connects easily with everybody's life in one way or the other.

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor (Ved Vardhan Sahni), Deepika Padukone (Tara Maheshweri), Javed Sheikh (Ved's Father), Vivek Mushran (Ved's Boss), Nikil Bhagat (Tara's Father), Piyush Mishra (Storyteller)

Genre: Drama, Romance

Direction: Imtiaz Ali

Produced by: Sajid Nadiadwala

Production Company: Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment

Story by: Imtiaz Ali

Cinematographer: Ravi Varman

Music: A. R. Rahman

Film Editing by: Aarti Bajaj

Distributors : UTV Motion Pictures

Theatre Release: 27th JNovember, 2015

Language: Hindi

Duration: 152 minutes

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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Life is a Tamasha (Spectacle) and we are the creators. Imtiaz Ali in this new cinematic venture makes the viewers reflect upon their life's Tamasha and asks us to stay true to our core self that makes us perform better in life and not just succumb to the external and internal stress/pressures and become robotic. 

The film begins with a Tamasha on stage. The clown and the robot enthrals the audience and amidst cheers/applause, a beautiful story is unveiled. The story of Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) the mast maula, free-spirited youngster who lives life to its hilt  and Ved Vardhan Sahni the obedient, stressed out son, youngster who lives a monotonous life engaged in the mundane task of his career. The internal and the external dimensions of Ved fails to complement each other, and therefore, all conflicts with self and others.  

The filmmaker takes us to the beautiful locales of Corsica (a French Island) and undoubtedly the scenic beauty and the successful jodi of Ranbir and Deepika captivates you. Two sojournes- a boy and a girl- meets, the boy helps the girl, they decide to have fun but stay detached so that life doesn't get complicated as any other love stories, and therefore, decides not to reveal their real identities. The girl is there because of her fondness for her childhood comic character Asterix and the boy is there for reasons known to him only. They become Mona darling and Teja for each other and communicate the lingo of the characters they play then and there. In this whole Tamasha that is staged by our dear Imtiaz Ali the audience reach a no man's land sitting in a rudderless ship of a movie made by an ace story teller who has Jab We Met, Rockstar, HighWay, and a few more in his kitty.  The first half is a sheer waste of time except for the scenic beauty and the playfulness of the lead actors. We miss the craft of Imtiaz Ali's previous films.

Piyush Mishra as the mystic story teller who draws the little Ved again and again to listen to his stories is a major part and crux of the whole movie. All of us are attracted and drawn to stories and the characters of these stories we have heard and read, forms life within us. This is what happens with Ved too. But then Ved repeatedly tells the old storyteller that it is the same story he had told him every time by just changing the name of the characters and locales. The story teller admits that it is true because it is not the story that changes but the way we look at it changes it. Imtiaz's Tamasha becomes a soul searching and self reflective movie through these two characters  i.e. the little Ved and the Old Storyteller.

The achievements of life becomes actually the fulfillment of expectations of our near and dear ones of our life, Our life takes the shape based on the blueprint designed by the authority figures of our life because somewhere we fear them, respect them, owe them or may be because we never took a call in our life.

Tara Maheshwari (Deepika Padukone) and Ved meet both the real and the unreal and goes through the grind of life sometimes failing and sometimes successful in dealing with it. What happens to Tara and Ved when the mask they wear fall apart? How do they deal with each other? Do they stand hand-in-hand together to deal with new reality or succumb to the pressures and expectations of others in their lives and their relationship crumble like a cookie.

Tamasha has a very strong and meaningful message. The idea of this movie is brilliant but the execution and the story telling falls flat in many areas. In the first half of the movie the filmmaker splurge on time and the scenic beauty of Corsica and in the second half he gobbles up four years of Ved and Tara in a single song and thus deprives the audience to see how they actually deal with their separation and other happenings of life. This takes away the beauty of the movie and its story Imtiaz attempts to tell us. Nevertheless,  one must still go and watch Tamasha for its philosophy "Grow beyond your own expectations and perform and be a benchmark for self and others in your life", life then becomes more fulfilling!

Ranbir Kapoor as Ved is awesome but I doubt whether this movie shall give him any relief from the impact of his flop 'Besharam'. Deepika is on a high from one to the next and she looks more beautiful with Ranbir Kapoor. She is good in her act as Tara.

The real star of Tamasha is the versatile actor Piyush Mishra - the man who weaves the Tamasha for the audience. There is a powerful scene and would like to say the only scene that brings each one of us come face to face with our self and that is when the old storyteller screams at Ved and tells him " Why do you want me to tell your story, create your own story you escapist".
A.R. Rahman's music and Irshad Kamil's lyrics add soul to the whole movie. "Agar Tum Sath Ho..." song wins your heart and makes you reminisce your relationship with a dear one you hold close to your heart.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5