Thursday, April 28, 2016

Movie Review: Nil Battey Sannata

Nil Battey Sannata: An Inspiring Story of a 'Go-Getter'! 
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The Story Frame:

Nil Battey Sannata by the debutant Director Ashwani Iyer Tiwari has become the talk of the tinsel town because of its refreshing and heartwarming story. It portrays the life and aspirations of a working class woman's bonding with her daughter. It deals with the perceptional and social blocks that one have in the pursuit of one's aspirations and dreams. The characters of Chanda and Apeksha are played by the very talented Swara Bhaskar and Ria Shukla, respectively. The film is supported and produced by Aanand L. Rai, Ajay Rai, and Alan McAlex.

Cast: Swara Bhaskar (Chanda Sahay), Ria Shukla (Apeksha Sahay), Ratna Pathak (Mrs. Dewan), Pankaj Tripathi (Principal Srivastava), Sanjay Suri (District Collector), Neha Prajapati (Sweety), Prashant Tiwari (Pintu), Vishal Nath (Amar)

Genre: Family Drama

Direction: Ashwani Iyer Tiwari

Screenplay: Ashwini Iyer, Nitesh Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, and Pranjal Choudhary

Produced by: Anand L. Rai, Ajay Rai, and Alan McAlex

Production Company: JAR Pictures, Colour Yellow

Cinematographer: Gavemic U. Ary

Music: Rohan, Vinayak

Lyrics: Manoj Yadav, Nitesh Tiwari, and Shreyas Jain

Film Editing by: Namrata Rao

Distributor: Eros International

Theatre Release: 22nd April, 2016

Language: Hindi

Duration: 104 minutes 
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Nil Battey Sannata is the triumph of a lady who dared to dream for a better life for her reluctant daughter who conveniently used the card of her being poor and marginalized to shy away from the responsibility to change her life situations by dreaming big. Chanda Sahay is a single mother who dons many hats simultaneously as a maid at Mrs. Dewan's (Ratna Pathak Shah) house, worker at a small factory, and a washer woman at a dhobhi ghat.  She is also ready to take up odd jobs to save money for her daughter to pursue her studies further to become an engineer or a doctor. But the irony is Chanda's daughter Apeksha Sahay aka Apu (Ria Shukla has no aspiration other than being a 'Bai' (Maid) like her mother. To counter her mother's expectations she also has her logics ready - a doctor's child becomes a doctor, an engineer's child becomes an engineer and therefore, a Bai's daughter is bound to become a Bai. So, why worry so much? To make her argument more stronger, the teenager has her arsenals ready by saying that even if, she studies well and scores goods in Matric (Xth Standard), will her mother be able to invest more money for her further studies? The answer is a big No! So, Why dream and waste efforts. 

Apu is one among those silly teenagers studying in a government school who finds joy sitting at the back bench along with her equally dumb friends. Apu needs to be cajoled or snubbed to get up early to reach the school on time. She behaves contrary to her name 'Apeksha' (Expectation). She has no expectations out of her and her life. She has knowingly or unknowingly accepted her status of being poor as a permanent and unchangeable fact and fate of life. Hence, any advice or talk on changing the status co is booed or shot down.  
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Chanda finds Dr. Devan her mistress understand her challenges and troubles with her not so studious daughter. Amidst the household work at Mrs. Dewan's house she finds the answer to her worries - why not enrol herself to complete her half done Xth class in the school where Apu goes to study. Mrs. Dewan's suggestion had many advantages: 1. Apu will start learning and can be constantly monitored, 2. Chanda can help her understand maths better and even study together better to score well in the board exam, 3. Chanda will be able to understand the challenges Apu faces in studies, and 4. most importantly Chanda would also get an opportunity to continue her studies which she had to abandon because of her financial and social constraints.  
Nil Battey Sannata raises many pertinent questions in regard to education in our country: education becoming commercialized, the apathy in government schools of having poor infrastructure and lack of advanced educational aids, flourishing coaching institutes that is accessible and affordable to only kids of well-to-do families or to those who already score well in studies, free education to girl child and promoting and supporting adult education.

The film brings in a kind of freshness in story telling which has all the elements to keep you glued to your seat and relate with the characters on screen. They make you laugh, think, cry and moreover inspire to have a dream. The film is very powerful and is successful in conveying it's message to have dreams in life and why it's important to be one's own savior to change which is unfavorable in the path of one's well being socially, mentally and emotionally.

Ria Shukla as Apu stands out in the film and is very well supported by an awesome actor like Swara Bhaskar. The mother and daughter's bonding, tiff, insecurities, and concerns are very well portrayed by both. 
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Swara Bhaskar is one such actor who easily makes a place in the viewers' heart by her flawless acting. She as Chanda makes you relate her agony as a mother, sole breadwinner, the trauma of being a school drop-out, fear of seeing the same fate for her daughter and the financial challenges an underprivileged marginalized family goes through when they dream big.

Pankaj Tripathy adds a dash of humour and playfulness in his role as the Principal of the government school as well as the Mathematics teacher. He is terrifically impressive while he maintains a studied watch on his students during the school assembly proceedings, his way of imparting the nuances of Mathematics in his class and the funniest of all is the meeting he has with Mrs. Dewan and the new entrant of the school Chanda Sahay. Pankaj Tripathi has been applauded a lot for his outstanding roles in films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Masaan.  In Nil Battey Sannata too he excels in his role.

Sanjay Suri in his cameo role as a collector furthers the plot through his subtle presence. He as a people-centric collector with all ears to listen, understand and guide is a delight to watch.   

Ratna Pathak Shah as Dr. Dewan plays the role of a well wisher and socially progressive woman effectively and effortlessly. Her rapport with her maid is quite appreciable and she genuinely appears to be sensitive towards the need for Chanda to pursue her studies as well as carve a better future for her daughter.
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Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari has made a fabulous film. The characters of the film connects with you instantly frame by frame, be it Mrs. Dewan a progressive, socially aware and understanding middleclass mistress, Chanda a 'Bai' who looks and behaves like any other Bai in our colony, Apu a lackadaisical teenager who doesn't give a damn to her mother's sacrifices and concerns about her future, the School Principal (Pankaj Tripathi) of a government school - funny but yet thorough professional and Apu's classmate - the studious boy who finds mathematics quite interesting. The well-crafted scenes deftly written by Ashwini Iyer, Nitesh Tiwari, Neeraj Singh, and Pranjal Choudhary leaves you wanting for more. The newcomers - Rohan and Vinayak has rendered some good music which are worth listening.

In short, Nil (Zero) Batta/Battey (Division) Sannata (Silence/Zero) which means 'Jinka kuch nahin ho sakta' (Good for nothing) is a must watch. It is inspiring, realistic and riveting. What happens to Chanda's dreams and expectations? Will she be able to make Apu realize the importance of studies and the relevance of pursuing one's own dreams? Watch them and  their incredible performance on screen in a nearby theatre and add wings to your dreams too ...

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Movie Review: FAN

 FAN: 'Never Fan an Angry Fan' 

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The Story Frame:

Maneesh Sharma's film FAN is a story about a die-hard fan and his encounter with his Reel Star in real life. It is a story of love, adulation, and  obsession which leads to hate and proving who is more of worth - the Fan or the Star.

Shah Rukh Khan acts as the protagonist (Aryan Khanna, the Mega star) as well as the antagonist (Gaurav Chandana, the Fan a boy from Delhi) in this movie. Both Aryan Khanna and his look alike Gaurav Chandana keep the viewers engaged through their love-hate relationship. FAN offers  SRK fans a young as well as a much evolved SRK together on screen which make the viewers reminiscence the SRK of Anjaam, Darr, and Bazigar.  

FAN is the new entry in the list of Yash Raj Films banner produced by Aditya Chopra.

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan (Aryan Khanna/ Gaurave Chandna), Waluscha de Sousa (Gauri Khanna), Sayani Gupta (PA to Aryan Khanna), Shriya Pilgaonkar (Gaurav's Girl Friend Neha), Deepika Amin (Gaurav's Mother), Yogendra Tiku (Gaurav's Father), Megha Gupta, Indraneel Bhattacharya (Aryan's Lawyer)

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Direction: Maneesh Sharma

Produced by: Aditya Chopra

Production Company: Yash Raj Films

Cinematographer: Manu Anand

Music: Songs: Vishal - Shekhar; Background Score: Andrea Guerra

Lyrics: Varun Grover

Film Editing by: Namrata Rao

Distributor: Yash Raj Films

Theatre Release: 15th April, 2016

Language: Hindi

Duration: 138 minutes
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Aryan Khanna: "Whatever I am today, it's because of my fans, thank you!"

Aryan Khanna: "Who are you?"

Gaurav Chandana: "I am your Fan, can't you spare five minutes of your life for me or what? "

Aryan Khanna: "It's my life, why should I even bother to give you five seconds of my life"

Gaurav Khanna: "You are a liar. I am your Fan... Forget it, you won't understand..."

Gaurav Khanna: "I am going to change the game, till date the Fans followed their heroes and now onwards I will make them follow their fans"

The above mentioned conversations between a celebrity and a fan forms the plot of the much awaited and recently released Bollywood film FAN by Director Maneesh Sharma. FAN scores well in the box office because of many reasons: 1. It's a Shah Rukh Khan movie, 2. It offers two SRKs for one ticket, 3. It comes from the stable of Yash Raj Films and Aditya Chopra at the helm of affairs, 4. Maneesh Sharma has some fairly good movies like Band Baaja Baarat and Shudd Desi Romance in his profile, and above all 5. It is about every Jabra fan of SRK.

To understand the mindset of a FAN doesn't require much effort because each one of us have an idol,  a hero, a celebrity, or an achiever whom we follow closely and relate to -  be it  politicians, film stars, social activists, writers, poets, sports players etc.  But to understand a fan's mindset who can go a bit overboard is bit difficult and challenging. We have heard and read many stories of such fan frenzy in the media like attempting to commit suicide, slashing wrist, writing letters with blood, getting married to a photo, fasting on 'karva chauth' for heroes and what not.
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Gaurav Chandana (Shah Rukh Khan) a middle class boy from Inder Vihar, Delhi is one such fan of Aryan Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan) the Bollywood Mega Super Star. His world is designed and influenced virtually by the presence of AK (Aryan Khanna). Gaurav Chandana aka Junior AK is known for his obsession for AK because every act of his daily life makes it evident. He ensures that the mark of AK is there around him, be it naming his Chat Cafe as 'AK Chat Cafe', his bedroom's wall plastered with AK's photographs and cutouts, his mannerisms and style imitating AK makes him the most sought after local hero in his neighborhood. Gaurav Chandana is a known artist who has won consecutively all the local annual Sitara Acting Competition prizes enacting AK on stage amidst whistles, cheers and hoots of laughter from the local audience.  

This year, Gaurav Chandana bags a whopping amount of Rupees Twenty thousand as cash prize by emulating AK on stage. His long cherished dream to meet AK personally gets a fresh ammo and he manages to get  permission from his much reluctant  parents to travel alone by train without ticket to Mumbai following AK who did the same to land in the city of dreams.  The train bound junior AK had least expected and may not have even imagined in his wildest dream that his journey to meet his 'Reel God' would change the course of his life forever.

As thousands throng the sea-facing mansion of AK on his birthday, Gaurav too push hard to reach the front to wave at his demigod  with his prestigious Sitara trophy to gift AK as his token of love and his other hand struggling to keep hold of a pack of sweets bought from the famous Halwai of Chandani Chowk to present it to AK on behalf of his dear parents. Pushed, trampled, bruised in the stampede and in his failed attempt to hoodwink the security guards of AK's mansion to have a glimpse of his demigod, Gaurav retires to his hotel room no. 205. It's the same room, which the mega star used to stay and frequent as a struggler in the tinsel town.
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Not ready to be shooed away by the security personnel of the well guarded mega star, Gaurav finds Sid Kapoor's, a rising Bollywood star, controversial statement and accusation against AK as a window to display his love to his hero.  Sid Kapoor is manhandled in a party by AK because Ak find the upcoming star's advances towards his wife inappropriate and objectionable. What followed is a series of press statements, video footages and police complaint from Sid Kapoor that catches the nation's attention. Gaurav Chandana's interaction with Sid Kapoor in his vanity van lands him in jail and his wish to meet his idol AK does takes place inside the cell but not the way Gaurav had expected and dreamt to happen.

Disillusioned, disheartened and wounded the fan in Gaurav is back to his home town less talkative and less vocal about his love for AK. After an year of silence and anonymity, Gaurav unleash havoc in the life of AK. Wherever AK reaches he finds the sinister footprints of his scorned fan Gaurav Chandana present. AK keeps finding himself in tricky situations and clearing up the mess created by Gaurav.Love, adulation and blind faith that marked the life of a fan is filled full of hate and hurt which leads to a cat and mouse chase between the Senior AK and the Junior AK.  
Madame Tussauds, London, Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Mumbai become the battle field for Gaurav and AK to vent out their anger and settle their score with each other.

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Shah Rukh Khan's Aryan Khanna seems to be more familiar because he is in his natural SRK mega star style but what catches the fancy of the viewers is Shah Rukh Khan's portrayal as the young vibrant free-spirited Gaurav Chandana. SRK as Gaurav surpass the imagination of a 48 year-old playing the role of a young boy that too half of his age with such conviction and ease is definitely praise worthy. Gaurav as an innocent fan and as a tormentor is stupendous. SRK as Gaurav brings back memories of his movies like Darr, Baazigar, and Anjaam. It is indeed a treat to watch the yesteryear's young SRK and the much evolved present day's SRK together sharing the screen.

SRK's colossal presence throughout the movie in every single shot makes the other actors appear dwarfish and nothing much left to do. Deepika Amin and Yogendra Tiku as Gaurav's parents are good. But their anxiety and their shock of coming to know about what their foolhardy son is getting into doesn't come on screen well and therefore, much of the last scene acts seems to be very superficial and doesn't connect well with the audience. Especially, the last scenes are too unrealistic but then when you have two SRKs fighting each other you tend to ignore the flaws and get carried away by the moment.  Sayani Gupta as Aryan Khanna's Personal Assistant tries to put her best foot forward.

The scene at Madame Tussauds' gallery, the cat and mouse chase in the bylanes of Dubrovnik and the dare devil act of hoping from one parapet to another parapet of an already dilapidated residential building by an ordinary boy and Gaurav seemingly  emerging as a well trained rogue is hard to buy. Gaurav's encounter with Gauri Khanna and the security personnel and his entry into a well guarded mansion are too unrealistic. What makes me wonder is what happens to the scriptwriters and to well established reputed production house to approve such scenes. Is it their overconfidence that having a superstar in the film they would be able to easily pull it off successfully, is it that they take the audience for granted, is it that there is a creative block that make them overlook such foolish and unrealistic scenes? Not incorporating in the film a song like Jabra Fan which was overly hyped and publicized and promoted is not doing justice to viewers who also had come to watch the same on a bigger screen. What is the reason not to incorporate the song even at the end when the  credits rolls is only known to them.

FAN cannot be stated as a well-crafted, brilliant movie of Shah Rukh Khan. It is a good watch because SRK has many other great movies to thump his chest like Chakde, Swadesh, Veer Zaara, Devdas, and Dil se. Fan is definitely a relief for SRK and his fans after a series of non performing movies. The character of Aryan Khan is not fleshed out properly.

The message of FAN is loud and clear - 1. Stars need to always remember their beginning and need to be humble and value the presence of their fans in their life. They are because of their fans who made them celebrities. There are ways which are more humane to convey and claim once own privacy when a fan goes overboard.  2. Fans need to understand that what they often watch on the screen may not be real always. Their stars and demigods are  like them who would love to have their own space and privacy and therefore to let them be what they are. 3. It's good to express your love and even get inspired by whom you adore but then carve your own image that comes from hard work, commitment, discipline and dreams.

In short, go and watch FAN for Shah Rukh Khan and not for anything else. 

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 14, 2016

दरिया (Poetry)

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दिल कि दरिया में 
डूबता हूँ मैं 
दिलकश नजा़रा यूँ आता है 
पल भर के लिऐ 
गुम हो जाता हूँ 
तुम में, मुझ में, खुदा में, 

खुलती है जब आँखें 
तो सूख जाती है यह दरिया
तुम भी, मैं भी, खुदा भी 
खो जाता हैं कहीं, 

यूं रहने दो मुझे 
जागा सारी उम्र 
कि ना डूबूँ 
फिर से ख्वाबों  के दरिया में 
तुम में, मुझ में, और खुदा में ।

Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Review: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book: A Captivating and Enthralling Cinematic Experience
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The Story Frame:

Mowgli is an orphan boy left at the mercy of the deep woods because of some unpleasant happenings, is raised by Raksha and Akela (the wolf couple) and is mentored and protected by Bagheera, the black panther.  Mowgli is mentored to adopt the ways of the wolves but he finds quite challenging to do away with his human tricks and ways to survive in the forest. The film is a series of happenings when Shere Khan, the ferocious Bengal Tiger questions and challenge the presence of a human cub in the jungle because it is against the law of the jungle. Shere Khan is hell bent to take revenge as he has his own story of being a victim of human's dubious and evil nature. Along with the aforementioned characters there are an ensemble of interesting inhabitants like Kaa, Baloo, King Louie to keep the viewers glued to their seats. The Jungle Book's hate story begins with the 'Red Flower' and also ends with the 'Red Flower'. What is it? Why it is dreadful and at same time powerful one need to watch.

Jon Favreau, the ace director and the Screenplay writer Justin Marks offer us a visually captivating and thoroughly entertaining film which is a technical marvel aided by CGI and Motion-Capture Technology. The voice cast both in English and the dubbed Hindi version are noteworthy and makes the movie worth watching. The film is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and is based on Rudyard Kipling's classic children's story. It is a film for all age group. If you want to experience a central Indian jungle with a riveting and gripping story, then do not miss it.   

Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Ritesh Rajan (Mowgli's Father)

Voice Cast (English & Hindi): Ben Kingsley & Om Puri (Bagheera), Bill Murray & Irrfan Khan (Baloo), Idris Elba & Nana Patekar (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong'o & Shefali Shah (Raksha), Scarlett Johansson & Priyanka Chopra (Kaa), Giancarlo Esposito & Rajesh Khattar (Akela), Christopher Walken & Bugs Bhargava (King Louie)

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Direction: Jon Favreau

Produced by: Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures, Fairview Entertainment

Written by: Justin Marks

Based on: Disney's The Jungle Book, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cinematographer: Bill Pope

Music: John Debney

Film Editing by: Mark Livolsi

Distributors : Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures

Theatre Release: 8th April, 2016

Language: English & dubbed in Hindi

Duration: 105 minutes

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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Disney's 'The Jungle Book' brings back the playful child in you. Even when you watch the human-cub 'Mowgli', the only human amongst seemingly ferocious but friendly jungle folks, you don't feel sorry for him but rather join in the fun with him with the help of the 3D glasses you have worn sitting in the darkness of your theatre munching popcorns. Jon Favreau's film is and will continue to be a long cinematic celebration for both the kids and the grown up for the next couple of weeks or perhaps for many months/years. He brought alive on the screen the most iconic animal characters of Rudyard Kipling's timeless stories, which we as Indians have grown up reading it as our staple entertainment input as kids . Neel Sethi, the American-Indian Child Actor has done a commendable work as Mowgli in this fantasy adventure film. He is terrifically convincing in his act as Mowgli and it is incredible to know that all the characters around him that we see on screen was not their while shooting. There are moments you may feel to walk, run, and swing arms with this young boy, who is indeed a powerhouse of talent.

In the lush green dense forest you find a red loincloth clad young child running through the thickets and sometimes hoping and swinging through branches of trees with a bunch of wolves and a black panther behind him trying to get closer and out do him. And when you sit with your mouth agape you find Mowgli bursting into laughter saying he won the race to the dismay of a pack of young wolves not approving his claim saying that he was not supposed to climb the trees. The ever caring Mowgli's mentor Bagheera (Voice cast: Ben Kingsley & Om Puri) the  black panther chides him saying he is not trying to learn the ways of the wolves and is stuck up with human ways and tricks. Mowgli who was  left behind alone in the jungle found by Bagheera is raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle. He is liked by almost everyone in the jungle except by the menacing Shere Khan (Voice cast: Idris Elba & Nana Patekar). Shere Khan is not ready to settle for less, other than Mowgli's  pound of flesh because he has an old score to settle with Mowgli's father who in a bid to escape from the attack of Shere Khan had to fight with him with the deadly 'Red Flower' (fire) which left Shere Khan partially blind and scarred for rest of his life.  
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On one hand, when you savour the visual treat Jon Favreau offers you using CGI and motion-capture technology, you also go through a gripping story of Mowgli's struggle for survival and his fight with every possible danger hidden in the jungle. The 'water truce' declared because of the drought reveals the existence of a human-cub in the jungle to many animals. The animals are terrified by Shere Khan's threat to avenge his hurt and to hand over Mowgli to him as per the jungle's law, if not, be prepared to sacrifice their life. The mother-wolf Raksha's (Voice cast: Lupita Nyong'o and Shefali Shah) plea to Shere Khan to let her son (Mowgli) alone because he is one among the pack of wolves is unheard and not taken in the right stride. Akela (Voice cast: Giancarlo Esposito and Rajesh Khattar)  the head of the wolves also quieten her to ease the volatile situation. Being aware about the threat looming large over each one of them, Mowgli decides to leave his jungle and dear folks to retreat back to human settlements outside the forest. The parting of Mowgli and Raksha is heartrending. Escorted by the most trusted friend and fatherly figure Bagheera, Mowgli moves deeper into the jungle which he had never attempted before.
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Mowgli's departure, leaving behind his near and dear friends in search of human settlement leads to a series of fatal and scary attempts on his life. His encounter with the hypnotic and mesmerizing python Kaa, (Voice cast: Scarlet Johansson and Priyanka Chopra)  though has less screen time but it is too engaging and keeps you glued to your seat with your head held back to the farthest from the hissing Kaa. The movie becomes light-hearted by the entry of the shaggy and sloth bear Baloo (Voice cast: Bill Murray and Irrfan Khan) as Mowgli's guardian angel. It is real fun to the hilt to watch the budding friendship between Baloo and Mowgli and  Baloo's innocent ways of lying to get his work done by the gullible Mowgli. Bill Murray's and Irrfan Khan's dialogue-delivery are so apt to the character of Baloo that they stay with you even after the movie.  
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The thrilling experience we go through as viewers is when Mowgli is kidnapped and whisked off by a pack of dare-devil monkeys to the den of King Louie (Voice cast: Christopher Walker and Bugs Bhargava) a Gigantopithecus, a giant ape that lives in an abandoned magnificent temple, which he has made into his royal abode. The scene that follows within the temple and how Bagheera and Baloo manages to reach the top of the cliff to rescue their mentee and friend is worth watching. Why does King Louie get him kidnapped? What does he want from a human cub?

Mowgli's challenge doesn't end there because King Louie tells him a secret that is guarded from him by Bagheera and Baloo. What is it? And why Mowgli decides to tread back to his old folks and that too with the dreadful 'Red Flower'. What awaits him there? Does Shere Khan settle score with Mowgli? Does Bagheera's advise to Mowgli that he isn't a wolf and should, therefore, fight back like a human at the most crucial moment of Mowgli's life save him?

Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book makes the whole movie an awesome cinematic experience and it will not be an exaggeration to say that this movie is truly one of the best movies to reach the cinema theatres in recent times. A perfect cast of ace actors both Hollywood and Bollywood rendering voice to the inhabitants of the jungle clubbed with CGI technology is mind blowing and thorough entertainer for all age group. The beauty of the movie is once you are in 'The Jungle Book' you would not want to come out of it. It is indeed enchanting!

In short, as the Law of the Jungle says - 'For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack' is relevant to us as well today when we find innumerable trivial reasons to divide ourselves and fall prey to hatred and distrust in our society.   

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Friday, April 1, 2016

Movie Review: Ki & Ka

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The Story Frame:

Ki and Ka is written, directed and produced by R Balki. The film talks about gender role reversal that happens in a couple's life - Kabir and Kia. It raises certain issues in regard to family stereotypes which chains a woman to do household chores and man to play the role of a bread winner. It is a welcome change in terms of introducing a novel concept in Bollywood to experiment with. Kareena  Kapoor Khan and Arjun Kapoor are the lead pairs in Ki and Ka.

Cast: Kareena Kapoor Khan (Kia), Arjun Kapoor (Kabir), Rajit Kapur (Mr. Bansal), Swaroop Sampath ( Ki's Mother), Amitabh Bachchan (cameo), Jaya Bachchan (cameo)

Genre: Rom-Com Drama

Direction: R Balki

Written by: R Balki

Produced by: R Balki, R K Damani, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Sunil Lulla

Production Companies: Eros Entertainment, Hope Productions

Cinematography: P C Sreeram

Edited by: Chandan Arora

Music: Ilaiyaraaja

Songs: Ilaiyaraaja, Mithoon, Meet Bros Anjjan

Theatre Release: 1st April, 2016

Language: Hindi

Duration: 126 Minutes

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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

A great plot which really had the strength to question and challenge the age-old male-centric society went kaput this Friday just because of its shaky execution. Ki & Ka treats a much debated topic of gender role reversal and role equality too superficially, wasting an opportunity of exploring it much deeper historically, politically and socially. Balki rather reduces such a serious issue into a laughable film. It is too preachy from the very beginning and it seems to be a long discussion between Ki & Ka figuring out the Ki & Ka in themselves. Balki has been able to rope in the industry's veteran couple Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan on reel to play their real life by playing host to Ka at their home. Though, there presence in the movie has nothing much to offer, still it's good to see them on screen together.

The film begins with Kia attending one of her friend's wedding reception and talking about her menstrual cycle when asked to dance  and giving a long speech on why women are asked to be the Khamba (pillar) of successful men in their home. Nothing wrong in the message but the way it is weaved into the plot and the way it is executed appears to be planted, shallow and pop-corn gender equality.

I was trying to figure out what actually Balki wants to convey? Is he trying to say that Ka becoming Ki and Ki becoming Ka addresses gender equality? No actually, he gets it further confused when Kabir tells no it's not about Ka becoming Ki or visa versa, but it's all about the choices they make to be what in life. The message becomes more murkier when the Mom (Sampat) tells Kia that actually it has nothing to do with Ki and Ka or visa versa, rather it is all between who the bread winner is and the dependent. Well, whatever it is, let's leave this issue to Balki and his team to decide.

What is Ki & Ka's story? Kabir (Ka) and Kia (Ki) meets on a Delhi-Chandigarh bond Vistara flight seated in the same row with a middle seat vacant between them. Ki is moved and a bit surprised to find a co passenger (Ka) beside her in tears and sobbing intermittently because he miss his mother on her birthday. The son of a successful Realtor (Rajit Kapur) Ka wants to be like his mother. He believes that his mother was an artist who built a home. He doesn't want to be in the rat race of life. On the contrary, Ki is an ambitious daughter of a single mother (Swaroop Sampat). Ki is a marketing manager in a FMCG company eyeing to be at the helm of affairs within a couple of years. She is backed by her mother who herself runs a couple of NGOs.

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Like every episode of a TV serial that leave the audience with a question to know more, Ki & Ka also keep meeting to figure out whether they need each other. What follows is a marriage of convenience - Ki wants to concentrate on her career and Ka wants to be a homemaker - the deal is solemnized in the marriage registrar's office exchanging garlands and Ka willfully wearing the mangalsutra (Balki's revolutionary idea of equality, I guess?). Their married life which is full of love, lot of cuddling, smooches and lot of happenings beneath the bed sheets fail to create the required on screen chemistry between the two - Ms. Kapoor Khan and Mr. Kapoor.

Well, when the corporate workaholic, Ki shuttles between home and product promotions and marketing campaign discussions, Ka manages the home front taking care of the dishes, meals, mom-in-law's health, provisions etc.  Rest everything is same like any other clichéd Bollywood movie - financial crunch, dream of owning a flat, dilemma whether both need to work, housing loan, fear of getting pregnant, conflict on 'you don't understand my dream', insecurity, jealousy etc. The only add on is Ki is Ka and Ka is Ki, ahem, hope you got it.

The movie which has a sluggish start slowly becomes dramatic. A concept film which actually had the power to convey a lot becomes frivolous in its depiction. The overly decked up customized home with an obsession for trains and railways make it far from reality. A bulky Ka all of a sudden becoming a gym trainer and always finding the most busiest, overly crowded road of Delhi always deserted for him to ride his Segway is bizarre. I feel, if Balki could have made a short film or an advertisement for a product on this concept it would have been more powerful, striking and crisp.

The music of Ki and Ka has been composed by Meet Bros Anjjan, Mithooon, and Ilaiyaraaja with lyrics by Kumaar, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Sayeed Quadri. Songs like 'High Heels' and 'Most Wanted Munda' fail to impress. Foolishq and Ji Huzoori are to some extent good. The presence of Ilaiyaraaja did increase expectations but doesn't live up to Ilaiyaraaja's track record of fabulous compositions.

In short, Balki's Ki & Ka has nothing special or out-of-the-box to offer. If at all, the concept of role reversal fascinates you and pulls you to a nearby cinema hall then please do a 'Chaddi Check' in advance to understand Balki's 'Stree-lling and Pul-ling' better.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1.5/5