Sunday, May 29, 2016

Movie Review: Phobia

Phobia: Be On Your Guard!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Pavan Kriplani’s film Phobia reminds me about an old adage – ‘A ship may be safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are for’. Pavan after his Ragini MMS and Darr @ The Mall has dished out a spine-chilling and spooky plot hovering around a girl who suffers of Agoraphobia (anxiety disorder that make one feel avoiding what’s outside is what protects them).

Mahek (Radhika Apte) an artiste becomes the prisoner of her own imagination which she manifests in reality around her because of a taxi ride she took on a fateful night after her painting exhibition. This unfortunate incident triggers an already anxiety driven Mahek into a dreadful mental abyss which she only is aware of. Worried by her anxiety syndromes and her forgetfulness and eerie behavior, her sibling Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya) wants her to be admitted to a medical institution to be taken care off but then Mahek finds this demand as a denial of her right and equal ownership on the house she shares with her sister. To avoid an unpleasant showdown, Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra) a family friend who also has a liking for Mahek shifts her to an empty flat.

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Phobia becomes horrifying and scary then on. Mahek coming across a personal diary supposedly written by an ex tenant Jiah who has actually gone missing intensify the whole unpleasant happenings in this apartment. Mahek’s encounter with an overly friendly next-door architect Mannu (Ankur Vikal) and her coming to know that he is behind the mysterious disappearance of the girl, leads her to suspect a possible murder mystery behind the whole happenings around her.

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To add to her woes there is a young bubbly neighbor Nikki (Yashashvini Dayama) who also believes in spirits and joins her in sketching the sinister Mannu and his apartment.

Phobia is definitely a film that is successful in bringing a kind of freshness in story telling under this genre. Moreover, Radhika Apte, the much talented actress as Mahek lives the character on screen with jaw-dropping viewers watch her stunning performance as an Agoraphobic patient. Radhika Apte’s riveting act makes the viewers to overlook a couple of flaws in the script like – why leave an agoraphobic patient alone to fend her fears? What keeps Mahek’s sister not visit her even once? Why Mahek’s psychic capabilities to see what is in store in the future is left unexplored? Why doesn’t Mahek’s Doctor visit her even once at her new apartment? The filmmaker and his team should have taken care of the script so that it doesn’t appear botched.

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Nevertheless, Pawan Kripalani has reignited the lost interest among viewers to watch films under this genre in Bollywood. He is to a great extent successful in delivering an engrossing and compelling narrative which keeps the viewers glued to their seats. Satyadeep Mishra, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Ankur Vikal and Yashashvini Dayama has put their best foot forward to keep the film gripping and intense. The only song Roke na Ruke is too good and has a peppy music.

In short, if you want to look beneath your bed before you sleep and listen to someone who tries to reach you through your bathroom’s drainage pipe then go and watch Phobia with your eyes wide open to see the horror unravel before you!

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25/5

Cast: Radhika Apte (Mahek), Satyadeep Mishra (Shaan), Ankur Vikal (Mannu), Yashashvini Dayama (Nikki), Nivedita Bhattacharya (Anu)

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Director: Pawan Kripalani

Producer: Viki Rajani

Written by: Pawan Kripalani, Pooja Ladha Surti, Arun Sukumar

Screenplay: Pawan Kripalani, Pooja Ladha Surti, Arun Sukumar

Music by: Daniel George; Background Score: Karan Gaur

Lyrics: Jay Shankar Prasad

Cinematography: Jayakrishna Gummadi

Edited by: Pooja Ladha Surti

Production: Eros International, Next Gen Films

Distributor: Pixel Digital Studios

Release Date: 27th May, 2016

Duration: 99 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Movie Review: Waiting

Waiting: For a Miracle!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Anu Menon’s film ‘Waiting’ speaks volumes about life and its momentariness. It breathes life into us with hope and resilience to deal with uncertainties in life. It asks some philosophical questions about how we perceive love and our relationships. It tells us that holding on to someone and something that we love may not always be the right thing to do. It makes us understand that sometimes letting go is a gesture of expressing your love to one whom you love the most.

The word ‘Waiting’ may mean differently to changing situations – it can be longing when in love; it can be frustrating when you are impatient; it can be anger after repeatedly failed  assurances; it can be just helplessness when you loss grip of life’s situations; it can be mere prayers when you just rely on some miracle to happen. Anu Menon’s ‘Waiting’ takes the viewers through a string of above mentioned emotions and feelings through her well-developed characters Shiv and Tara – the lead protagonists.
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Shiv Natraj, a professor is in waiting since eight months holding on to the hope that his wife will come out of coma who is hospitalized in an elite hospital in Cochin. He has mugged up everything written on net, books and research journals about similar cases, possibilities and treatments for speedy recovery and is not ready to hear anything negative about the possibility of not getting back his wife hale and healthy. For him his 40 years of married life with his wife Pankhaja ( Suhasini Maniratnam) a Keralite had been a joy too difficult to let go. On the contrary, Dr. Nirupam Malhotra (Rajat Kapoor), the doctor in charge of his ailing wife has a different opinion. Dr. Malhotra believes that Shiv is unnecessarily and unrealistically holding on to his wife and its high time he should give consent to remove her from life support system.

Tara is shocked, shattered and is struggling to come to terms to see her husband in a vegetative state in the same hospital after he met with a tragic car accident in Cochin. She is yet to come out from her newly married bliss that this incident struck her so hard. She feels lonely and frustrated even more when she says she has more than a five thousand twitter followers and fifteen hundred facebook friends and yet no one around. She is disillusioned about her friends and friendship when she finds alone in the hospital corridors waiting for a good news to reach her about her hubby’s recovery.
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Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin as Shiv and Tara are so natural and strikingly perfect in their act that the viewers are able to internalize the trauma, pain, and hope they experience in their life. They both bring on screen quite successfully the mind set and point of view about life of two schools of thought – the old and the young Gen Y. According to Shiv the young are in a hurry – everything for them is ‘Now’ and ‘Oh Shit’ Oh fuck’ may sometimes mean as ‘Oh Wow’ or ‘Oh wonderful’ too!!!

And for Tara, Shiv is Zen like. Disturbed but yet calm, shattered but still gathered together, uncertain but certain even in uncertainties, helpless but still helpful to others.  
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The roles played by Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Maniratnam, Arjun Mathur, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee as Tara’s friend and Rajeev Ravindranathan as Girish - office colleague and friend of Arjun Mathur are noticeable and well performed. Each character is distinct and has an important role to play in developing the story further. The climax is the crux of life that leaves the audience to figure out what life actually is to them! 

Apurva Asrani and Nitin Baid’s editing does wonders to this film. Apurva is already basking in the glory and positive response ‘Aligarh’ received and ‘Waiting’ is another feather in his cap for his awesome work. Music by McCleary is noteworthy and songs like Zara Zara sung by Vishal Dadlani and Kavita Seth; Tu Hai Tho Mai Hoon sung by Anushka Manchanda and Nikhil D’Souza; Got My Eyes on You sung by Mikey McCleary; and Waiting for You sung by Anushka Manchanda and Mikey McCleary are too good and melodious. These songs are worth to be added to your personal collections.

Anu Menon truly deserves all the credit for offering such a believable, soulful and life inspiring film. In short, life is a series of bold decisions and some keeps you ‘Waiting’!
Are you waiting to watch ‘Waiting’, then please don’t… just go and watch this beautiful film without any further delay and get blown away by its take on life, bonding and love!!!! Live, Love and Laugh!!!

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah (Prof. Shiv), Kalki Koechlin (Tara), Rajat Kapoor (Dr. Malhotra), Arjun Mathur (Husband of Tara), Suhasini Maniratnam (Pankhaja)

Genre: Family Drama

Director: Anu Menon

Producers: Priti Gupta, Manish Mundra

Written by: Atika Chohan (Dialogues)

Screenplay: Anu Menon, james Ruzicka, Atika Chohan

Music by: Mikey McCleary

Cinematography: Neha Parti Matiyani

Edited by: Apurva Asrani, Nitin Baid

Production: Ishka Films, Drishyam Films

Release Date: 27th May, 2016

Duration: 98 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie Review: U Turn

U Turn: A Shortcut to Death
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The Story Frame

Director Pawan Kumar is back with yet another interesting story after his much successful film Lucia. Through U Turn, Pawan Kumar tells the world how callous we are when it comes to following traffic rules. In the hurry to take a short cut we don’t bother the consequence that may follow to self or to someone else. U turn is about a string of unpleasant happenings due to the traffic violation happening on a double road over bridge in Bengaluru which is followed up by a new intern of a major newspaper. The film is a mystery thriller that slowly and very beautifully reveals the connection between the traffic violation happening on the over bridge and the deaths of the offenders. The background score is by Poornachandra Tejaswi and the film is edited by Suresh.

Cast: Shraddha Srinath (Rachna), Dilip Raj(Adhithya), Roger Narayan (Sub Inspector Nayak), Radhika Chetan, Skanda, Krishna, Pavan, Naveen, Pramod Shetty (Sundar), Aarna Kulkarni, Kennedy

Director: Pawan Kumar

Producer: Pawan Kumar

Written by: Pawan Kumar

Screenplay: Pawan Kumar

Music by: Poornachandra Tejaswi

Cinematography: Satya Hegde, Advaith Gurmurthy, Siddharth Suni

Edited by: Suresh Armugam

Production: Pawan Kumar Studios

Distributor: Mysore Talkies

Distribution Partner: Drishyam Films

Release Date: 20th May, 2016

Duration: 121 Minutes

Language: Kannada (With English Subtitles)

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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Pawan Kumar’s U Turn is a gripping tale that keeps the audience at the edge of their seats fairly for a long time. Breaking traffic rules is not an uncommon sight on Indian roads. U turn tells us about a trainee journalist working in a major newspaper in Bangalore who is writing a story on people who violate traffic rules especially at a particular spot on the double road over bridge. She is aided by a recluse living in a makeshift shanty near the said spot who gives her the numbers of those vehicles in exchange of Rs 100 a day who have broken the traffic rules by shifting divider blocks manually that endangers life of other motorists.  
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The female protagonist Rachana (Shraddha Srinath) based on the information regularly follow up with her friend in the RTO to track those violators’ other particulars to interview them to know their mind set and attitude that makes them commit such traffic violations.  On a particular day she sets out to interview Sundar, a traffic offender at his residence. Tired and exhausted after a hectic day and the interview she gets a shock of her life when she finds herself bundled into a police van accusing her for killing Sundar. U Turn from there on becomes truly a thriller that keeps you guessing and figuring out what is the connection between the traffic violations on the double-road over bridge and the alleged suicides committed by the violators. Shraddha Srinath as a trainee journalist is too good in her act. She as an inquisitive journalist, a dove-eyed lover and a girl who got trapped in the mystery of Whodunit is convincing. Shraddha  Srinath, a lawyer turned actor has an impressive presence and is successful in not over doing her act in crucial emotional scenes.

Her love interest, Adhithya is played by Dilip Raj. Dilip Raj as a crime reporter who is equally smitten like Rachna has a significant connection to the mystery shrouded U turn. Except for that he is not found contributing much to the story development. It is quite inconceivable that why Rachna who is at the early stage of love with Adhithya doesn’t share the trauma, her findings and seek help from him even when he is found handing over crime related research documents to her. Given his crime reporting experience Adhithya could have played a major role in unraveling the mystery of U turn, probably this could have been done if Pawan Kumar had conceived some other character to play the significant part meant for Adhithya. Perhaps, Pawan didn’t want him to do that because his role as a crime reporter teaming up with Rachna and Nayak in the investigation somewhere could have diluted the powerful role played by Roger Narayan as an investigating officer.
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The real showstopper in U Turn is Sub inspector Nayak. The incredible and realistic performance by Roger Narayan leaves us wanting for more from him. Nayak, a sensible and mature police officer is caught between the protocol of obeying his boss not to proceed with the investigation and his moral responsibility as a human being in authority to help a hapless girl suspected to be the alleged killer. Roger is a Hollywood actor who also finds time to work in Indian films (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada). Roger Narayan’s Hola Venky made by a fantastic filmmaker Sandeep Mohan is quite impressive and he is also seen in the latest Hollywood movie ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’ based on the life of the Indian mathematics genius Ramanujan.

Pawan Kumar’s U Turn is not just a mystery thriller but it is a reminder to many of us that Indians are habitual traffic violators and are unapologetic too. A short cut to reach one’s destination may be a short cut to death for self or for others.  U Turn's first half is engrossing and thrilling but then post interval the mystery is unfolded too quickly.

Nevertheless, Pawan Kumar’s U Turn shall remind us all those traffic violations we did knowingly or unknowingly that might have put many lives in danger. The movie weaves in a beautiful story that showcases the plight of the victims who becomes prey to a freak accident and how the lives of their dear ones get altered due to that event. Despite its flaws here and there the movie definitely deserves an applause for its storytelling and portrayal which is quite different from the likes of this genre.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.25