Saturday, June 25, 2016

Movie Review: 7 Hours To Go

7 Hours To Go: A Ho-Hum Movie!
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There is a dialogue in this movie – “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. Saurabh Varma’s ‘7 Hours To Go’ was indeed served very cold. It tried hard to be intense during the unfolding of the plot initially but soon it reminded me every second it’s time to ‘Go’ out of the theatre.

Arjun Ranavat (Shiv Pandit) walks into Mumbai’s crowded High Court and takes seven hostages and offers seven hours to an already tizzy police force taken unaware to handover Kabeer Khemka (a Business Tycoon embroiled in corrupt practices played by Rohit Vir) to him. Why all this drama because Arjun Ranavat want to settle scores with this high profile tycoon for killing Maya (Natasa Stankovic), his girlfriend.

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Meanwhile, when an over-confident police officer Ramesh Dadhke (Varun Badola) is charged up to easily tame this captor by his wits and easy going experienced cop image, Dadhke is amused by the unusual demand put forward by Arjun to summon ACP Shuklaji to deal with him. And when the viewers are awaiting to watch the grand entry of Shukhlaji, there enters a beautiful, slick and stylish cop ACP Nandini Shukla (Sandeepa Dhar) running behind criminals fearlessly through the crowded streets of Mumbai. Shukhlaji is not only rough and tough but doesn’t hesitate even to pull her shirt off to change into a blue colored tee shirt in front of a local investigative journalist whose eyes are popping with amazement. Saurabh Varma not only make his super cop undress but also another hostage to do the same act slipping quickly into a body hugging outfit for her dare devil act. And as if he is not yet done with it, he makes a sexy sultry damsel join a Ganpati Bappa Visarjan rally to dance to a number ‘Aaja Mahinder Dance, Dalinder Dance’. Maybe, he believes that all these acts would intensify the thrill of watching the hostage and heist drama and add some brownie points for his efforts. Unfortunately, these scenes turns out to be unnecessary add on and has nothing to do with the brewing plot.

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When you start believing Arjun Pandit’s solo captor act, you are introduced to some unexpected partners in crime. And why they are with him is fleetingly mentioned and lacks credibility. Ordinary people turning tech  savvy and acting like specially trained commandos cracking high secured areas and security systems becomes too much to take. To add to your woes there is a childlike dual personality snipper Amol Palekar (Kettan Singh) who is given supari by the tycoon to bump off Arjun Ranavat. Kettan Singh’s excessive screen time is unjustified and his psycho act is less intimidating and more funny. He seems to be a misplaced character in 7 hours To Go.

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Shiv Pandit as Arjun Ranavat is good and puts a brave front. Though, Varun Badola as Ramesh Dadhke keeps you in good humour he occasionally goes overboard in his act. Sandeepa Dhar as ACP tries hard to be a rough and tough cop but seems to be trapped in her slick and stylish looks. Rohit Vir’s Kabeer Khemka act falls short of being villainous.  

In short, Saurabh Varma’s ‘7 Hours To Go’ is supposedly inspired by a true event that happened several years ago when a captor hijacked a passenger bus who made some similar demands in Mumbai. Saurabh after his ‘Mickey Virus’ yet again fails to woo the audience to his side with this so-called thriller. The climax of the movie indicates a possible sequel, hope he dares not again and if at all he does let’s hope he comes up with the best. So go and watch ‘7 Hours To Go’ at your own risk.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1.5/5

Cast: Shiv Pandit (Arjun Ranavat), Sandeepa Dhar (ACP Nandini Shukla),Varun Badola (Ramesh Dhadke), Natasa Stankovic (Maya)

Genre: Thriller

Director: Saurabh Varma

Producers: Nitika Thakur

Music by: Hanif Shaikh, Sugat Shubham

Cinematography: Milind Jog

Edited by: Nitin FCP

Production: Krian Pictures

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Release Date: 24th June, 2016

Duration: 120 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Movie Review: Raman Raghav 2.0

Raman Raghav 2.0: 
Evil Meets Evil and They Lived Happily Ever After!
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Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 is dark, disturbing and bloody. It is episodic and spreads through eight chapters with the last chapter titled as Soul mates. Inspired by the menacing criminal of the 1960s with a similar name who bludgeoned 41 innocent victims to death, Raman Raghav 2.0 is a contemporary avatar represented by two people – 1. Psychopath Ramanna played by the super talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui and 2. Raghavan a drug snorting, aggressive and sexually violent cop played by the ‘Masaan’ boy Vicky Kaushal.  

Raman Raghav 2.0’s trailer had generated the required level of curiosity to watch this movie and it tries to live up to an extent to the expectations but falls short in developing the characters under question to authenticate the reasons behind their act of indulging in gruesome and merciless killings.
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Nawazuddin has set his benchmark in acting and it seems this man is on a mission to be the top notch actor of this generation. He is already hailed for his innumerable characters he has played on screen. From a small role in Sarfarosh, this man loaded with talent and skill has become a trailblazer. To watch Nawazuddin as Ramanna a psychotic killer, who likes to be known as Sindhi Dalwai because he knows it was the name of the infamous killer of 1960s Raman Raghav,  is frightening and disturbing. He is remorseless, unapologetic and believes that he is the CCTV camera of God who identifies people through him to be bumped off. He being locked in an abandoned building, his encounter with his sister and he squatting in front of Raghavan’s house having a steady watch on his balcony are some of the high octane thrilling performances in this movie by this incredible actor.
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Vicky Kaushal from his debut in Masaan, then Zubaan and now Raman Raghav 2.0 is keeping sturdy steps to ensure to have a strong footing in this volatile and highly competitive industry. His Raghavan is a surprising above turn in comparison to what he played in Masaan and Zubaan. From a small town (Banaras) lower caste lover boy in Masaan, to a stammering young ambitious boy in Zubaan, Vicky Kaushal’s Raghavan appeals to all. Raghavan as an angry, drug addicted, sexually abusive young cop is good but then his agressive act as a cop, lover and son is not fully justified. Therefore, the viewers are left to fathom the what, why and the how of his character.

Sobhita Dhulipala as Smrutika Naidoo the woman in Raghavan’s life has nothing much to do except to watch him helplessly and plead to marry her. Hope she gets a much meatier role soon to prove her abilities and skills as an actor.

The film begins to nose dive when the filmmakers try to turn a menacing killer Ramanna spout philosophy, for instance the dialogue – “Sabko kisi na kisi ko marna hota hi. Koi dange ke aadd mai apni baddass nikalta hai to koi wardi ki aadd mai to koi Syria jaake. Mai logon ko marta hun kyunki muje maarna hai. Mujhe issi mai mazaa aata hai”.  The political awareness of a serial killer and his search for his soul mate is a bit uncanny out here.
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Varun Grover’s lyrics for the song ‘Behooda’ depict the true nature of Raman Raghav and successfully conveys the feel of the film. The song is composed by Ram Sampath and sung by Nayantara Bhatkal.

In short, Raman Raghav 2.0 is less story and more of chronicling of brutal murders done by Raman Raghav and it fails to develop the characters so as to make the audience understand their reasons of being anti-social in there on way. Nevertheless, one can still go and watch for Nawazuddin’s and Vicky Kaushal’s sincere and flawless effort to bring the characters they play to stay in your mind.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Ramanna), Vicky Kaushal (Raghavan), Shobhita Dhulpala (Smrutika Naidoo), Vipi Sharma (Father of Raghavan), Amrutra Subharsh (Lakshmi), Anushka Sawney (Ankita), Ashok Lokhande, Mukesh Chabra

Genre: Crime Thriller

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Producers: Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Vikramaditya Motwane, Madhu Mantena

Written by: Anurag Kashyap, Vasan Bala

Music by: Ram Sampath

Cinematography: Jay Oza

Edited by: Aarti Bajaj

Production: Phantom Films

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Release Date: 24th June, 2016

Duration: 127 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Movie Review: Udta Punjab

'Udta Punjab' is Brutally Honest!
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Udta Punjab depicts two kinds of battle: one with the external forces that cripples a society and two with self by the drug addicts to break the shackle of drug addiction. The beauty of Udta Punjab’ is that it doesn’t have a lead pair; the main protagonist of the film is the menacing ‘Drugs and its Addiction”.

The film opens depicting a windy night and three scooter-borne youths riding through the darkness of a dusty road that cut through lush green fields amidst tall swaying trees on either side of it. And one of them tries to ape like an Olympic-level shot putter to heave a packet of drugs neatly packed like a disc to land at a far distant field on the other side of the border (Punjab). And what appears on the packet midair is the title ‘Udta Punjab’.

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Punjab a land of five rivers is high and dry because of the unholy nexus between the drug lords, politicians and the police. Tommy Singh Aka Gabru (Shahid Kapoor) a rockstar by chance is high on drugs and becomes an overnight sensation. His songs and lyrics are a concoction of ‘coke and cock’ that pulsate in the dim lights of popular pubs and concerts keeping the youths equally high grooving whole night. He is a youth icon and his fans ape him. Tommy’s rise and fall is heartrending to watch and Tommy’s statement to his fans - “Do you want to see the real Tommy not the Gabru then look here I am ‘Tommy the Fuddu (Moron)’. I sang and composed songs on drugs and you made it your life’s philosophy. You are a bigger Fuddu than me” - shows the inner battle of an already beleaguered rockstar. Shahid Kapoor as Tommy Singh has given an outstanding performance. His histrionics as a rockstar high on drugs and his vulnerabilities are well essayed by him.

Along with Tommy Singh there are three other characters that add momentum to the plot of Udta Punjab and they are - a Bihari labourer played by Alia Bhatt, Dr. Preet Sahni (Kareena Kapoor Khan) a specialist who works in a de-addiction centre as well as an anti-drug crusader and a transformed corrupt cop Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh).

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Diljit Dosanjh who is a huge star in Punjabi movies and also an acclaimed singer and television Presenter has won the hearts of the viewers as a repenting corrupt cop who wants to make up for his lapses as a family man. He and Kareena Kapoor Khan as Dr. Preet have pulled off their act successfully. Her inquisitiveness as an anti-drug crusader - who sees death and trauma of both the addicts and their family members daily - to dig out the source of drugs in the state and to unmask the custodians of law and politics in front of the public is quite commendable. 

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The showstopper in Udta Punjab is Alia Bhatt as the nameless Bihari migrant labourer wielding a hockey. Though she tries hard to pick up the right accent of a Bihari she is remarkable in her deglamorized look and her mannerisms to authenticate the role she plays are well enacted. Her journey from the ‘Student of the Year’ to this role of a migrant labourer in Udta Punjab tells us that there is much more about Alia as an actor to be explored. Her role in the film ‘Highway’ and now in Udta Punjab shall be marked as one among many other landmarks as an actor in her profile.

Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab is definitely more real and less reel. He is successful in his story telling with flair in depicting well etched characters to tell the hard and painful reality of a society. It is worth a watch after all the hullabaloo about defaming a state and all. Udta Punjab doesn’t defame Punjab rather it brings back the focus on it and its glorious past and its contribution as a state to the country’s agrarian growth and economic stability. 

Udta Punjab is a wakeup call for all of us to proactively participate in the crusade against drugs and the perpetrators.  It’s worth appreciating the grit and guts of the team of Udta Punjab who knocked the doors of the judiciary to get the movie released on time with bare minimal cuts. The kind of mass support from prominent personalities in the industry as well as people across the country is commendable. Therefore, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Udta Punjab is not only a movie that highlights the drug menace but is also an example for the right of freedom of expression. It’s high time that we learn from history that the people at the power centres may be successful partially in silencing individuals but not a nation. So go and watch Udta Punjab not for its reasons it had to be in the news but for its hard hitting story.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating:3.75/5

Cast: Shahid Kapoor (Tommy Singh), Alia Bhatt (Bihari migrant Labourer), Kareena Kapoor Khan (Dr. Preet Sahni), Diljit Dosanjh (Sartaj Singh), Satish Kaushik (uncle of Tommy Singh), Prabhjyot Singh (Bali)

Genre: Crime

Director: Abhishek Chaubey

Producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Aman Gill, Sameer Nair

Written by: Sudip Sharma (Dialogues)

Screenplay: Sudip Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey

Story: Sudip Sharma, Abhishek Chaubey

Music by: Original Songs by Amit Trivedi

Background Score: Benedict Taylor, Naren Chandavarkar

Cinematography: Rajeev Ravi

Edited by: Meghna Sen

Production: Balaji Motion Pictures, Phantom films

Distributor: Balaji Motion Pictures

Release Date: 17th June, 2016

Duration: 149 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Movie Review: Housefull 3

A House Full of Fools and Liars!

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If your gang of friends say ‘Chalo Bhahar Latakte hi’ (Let’s Hang Out) and it includes watching Sajid-Farhaad’s Housefull 3 then ‘Thandi Waali Dawa Le Lo’ (Take a Chill Pill) because I am sure you will ‘Paal Pos Ke Upar Jaa’ ‘Grow Up’ not to watch the next sequel even if someone points a pistol on your temple. By now you would have understood the lingo used in this funny caper and I am sure you would have gone ‘Akrot’ I mean ‘Nuts’.
Even after watching the first two Housefulls you are still not able to ‘Kaamwaali Gayi Kaamwali Gayi’ (Let Bygones be Bygones) then ‘Naukri Neeche’ (Calm Down) and Taang Uthake (a song in this movie) go and watch this nonsensical film.
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Batuk Patel (Boman Irani) an Indian Gujrati business tycoon settled in London has three ‘Maals’ (Daughters) that’s how Sandy aka Sundi (Akshay Kumar) one of the boyfriend of these heiresses address them. The three ‘Maals’ Ganga (Jacquueline Fernandez), Jamuna (Lisa Hyadon) and Saraswati (Nargis Fakhri) according to their Dad are the sanskari daughters but on the contrary they don’t hesitate to party whole night Taang Uthake with their friends. To add more fun, that’s what poor guys (Sajid-Farhaad) believe that they have done, these sanskari girls will bring ill-luck to the family as per Aakhri Pasta  (Chunky Pandey) a restaurateur who agrees to be an Astrologer for Batuk Patel to earn quick money. According to Aakhri Pasta the moment the ‘Maals’ join in a holy wedlock that will be the ‘Aakhri Din’ (last day) for their father.

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To counter Aakhri Pasta’s planetary warnings and to appease their conservative Dad the bimbettes and their equally dumb boyfriends – footballer Sandy (Akshay Kumar), Car Racer Teddy (Riteish Deshmukh) and a Raper Bunty (Abhshek Bachchan) decides to act as paraplegic, blind, and mute, respectively. Then on, Batuk Patel’s London mansion becomes a house full of fools and liars.

Joining the mad caper is our own Jaggu Dada (Jackie Shroff) as Urja Nagre (an erstwhile Mumbai Don) and unfortunately he doesn’t live up to his name and fails to add any urja (energy) to the already depleting urja of the poor viewers.

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In short, Housefull has a poorly written script and also has lowered the quality of the genre the movie claims to be.  It’s true that the actors try hard but are in vain and you won’t dare to say that ‘Woh Mere Seb Ki Aannkh hai’ (He is the apple of my eye). Well, if you still want to go and watch Housefull 3, then on your return stop at the roadside eatery Aakhri Pasta at London Rasta to ensure you forgive these ‘Bandook ke Bachche’ (Son of a gun) and treat ‘Kaamwaali Gayi Kaamwali Gayi’ (Let Bygones be Bygones). I am sure you won’t want to remember that ‘Lambi Gaadi Ke Peeche’ (Long time Ago) you saw such a horrible movie.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1/5

Cast: Akshay kumar (Sandy aka Sundi), Abhishek Bachchan (Bunty), Riteish Deshmukh (Teddy), Jacqueline Fernandez (Ganga), Lisa Haydon (Jamuna), Nargis Fakhri (Saraswati), Boman Irani (Batuk Patel), Jackie Shroff (Urja Nagre), Chunkey Pandey (Aakhri Pasta)

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Directors: Sajid-Farhaad

Producer: Sajid Nadiadwala

Written by: Sajid-Farhaad

Screenplay: Sajid-Farhaad; Additional Screenplay: Rajan Agarwal

Story: K. Subash

Music by: Sohail Sen, Mika Singh, Sharib-Toshi, Tanishk Bagchi, Milind Gaba

Cinematography: Vikas Sivaraman

Edited by: Steven Bernard

Production: Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment

Distributor: Eros Internatonal

Release Date: 3rd june, 2016

Duration: 145 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Movie Review: Praktan

Praktan: ‘Formerly Yours’!

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Praktan is a train Journey from Mumbai to Howrah and in its course of journey the train chugs through different stations of life of its passengers in one of the first class Ac coach. The film shuttles through the past and the present, changing tracks so aesthetically that you carry a heart full of memories of its passengers you met on screen. It leaves you to imagine and wish the probable future you would like to see them have in their lives. The passengers comprises of an elderly couple seen off by their son and daughter-in-law; a bunch of musicians who make the film’s narrative lively and interesting by rendering some memorable tunes and songs; a newly married couple who are still stuck in their happy space of honeymoon and probing each other to know their past affairs keep the film and the viewers in good humour; a chatter-box and typical Bengali mother - Malini, her sweet daughter and her husband who joins the journey from Nagpur adds the necessary twists and turns to the story and keeps it intriguing; and finally an architect Sudipa who has many memories to revisit in this journey.

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The elderly couple’s roles are played by the veterans Soumitra Chatterjee and Sabitri Chatterjee; the musicians are played by Anindya Chatterjee, Upal Sengupta, Anupam Roy and Shurojit Chatterjee; the newly married couple is played by Biswanath Basu and Manali Dey; and the Bengali mother is played by Aparajita Adhya. All the characters are well etched and leave a sweet and lingering impact on us.

Regional films are no more regional I guess, after seeing the kind of warm welcome they receive from the viewers across the country and globe. Sairat and now Praktan have joined the league of popularity these regional films are getting for the kind of originality and freshness they bring in for cinema lovers.

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Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta starring Bengali film Praktan, directed by the successful filmmaker duo Nandita Roy and Shiboprasad Mukhopadhya is special for one more reason because the lead protagonists – Prosenjit and Rituparna – are coming together after a long hiatus between them. Prosenjit and Rituparna playing the young and the mature character are fabulous in their performance. Prosenjit as a passionate tour guide and Rituparna as a career-driven heritage restoration architect make you relate with self and many around you. 

Watching Praktan reminded me of her acting prowess in the film ‘Rajkahini’ which can be best described as a partition period drama made by an acclaimed filmmaker Srijit Mukherjee. Rajkahini was equally intriguing which I saw at ‘I View World International Film Festival’, New Delhi, March 2016 and got an opportunity to interact with her during the panel discussion.

Praktan with its characters and their lives woven with each other directly or indirectly becomes a kaleidoscope rotated by the ace filmmakers to give us the glimpses of changing colors, patterns and shapes of life and to fetch and gather ourselves in those images/reflections produced by the bits of glass in it. There is a dialogue at a particular instance where the coupe passenger Malini tells Sudipa that she is happy to accept the past, present and the future of her husband as it is and that makes her life beautiful and peaceful. On probing further Malini reveals that adjusting with each other as life partners doesn’t mean losing anything.

Why does this journey become a self-introspection journey for the lead protagonists is something which we need to watch on screen? Brian Weiss in his best seller book ‘Messages from the Masters’ aptly says – “Forgive the past. Learn from it and let go. People are constantly changing and growing. Do not cling to a limited, disconnected, negative image of a person in the past. See that person now. Your relationship is always alive and changing”. So go and watch this quintessential family movie which for sure will offer you a new kind of lens to revisit your life .

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4.5/5

Cast: Prosenjit Chatterjee, Rituparna Sengupta, Aparajita Adhya, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sabitri Chatterjee, Anindya Chatterjee, Upal Sengupta, Anupam Roy, Shurojit Chatterjee, Biswanath Basu, Manali Dey

Genre: Family Drama

Directors: Nandita Roy, Shiboprasad Mukhopadhyay

Producers: Probhat Roy, Gautam Mukherjee

Production Company: Windows, Ardor Entertainment, Eskay Movies

Screenplay: Nandita Roy

Dialogues: Shiboprasad Mukhopadhyay

Music by: Anindya Chatterjee, Anupam Roy, Radha Raman

Background Score: Binit Ranjan Moitra

Cinematography: Gopi Bhagat

Edited by: Malay Laha

Release Date: 27th May, 2016

Duration: 143 Minutes

Language: Bengali (With English Subtitles)