Sunday, July 31, 2016

Movie Review: Dishoom

Dishoom: Bromance in the Middle East!

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Rohit Dhawan’s second directorial venture ‘Dishoom’ entertains despite its clichés and often seen action scenes. India’s top cricket player Viraj (Saqib Saleem) vanishes in thin air from one of the host country in the Middle East before a crucial and decisive final match between India and Pakistan. The alleged abduction set the alarm bells ringing at higher levels of the government. And a lady Minister heading the External Ministry is found puffing and fuming on this news and trying to put her point - the need to act quickly because there is an imminent possibility of communal riots if Viraj is not traced back.

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On her behest, the case is handed over to an ace cop Kabir (John Abraham) of the Indian Special Task Force, who works on his own terms and charts his own path to find his hunt. Kabir, a burly man with a swagger points a gun at an officer who comes to pick him up from the airport just because he was asked to report first at the police headquarters before he starts his investigation which was contrary to Kabir’s wish.

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Kabir doesn’t like a ‘no’ and doesn’t heed to dictums. He can throw a man from an elevator for asking him not to smoke; he picks his ‘Man Friday’ Junaid Ansari (Varun Dhawan) against the wishes of the host country’s top rank boss; he can break and damage a car stereo just because he only likes Mohd Rafi and Kishore Da. But surprisingly this bull-headed cop along with his side-kick gets ready to strip down in their fluorescent briefs and walks into a swimming pool on being instructed by a party animal - a gay donning a man-bun (Akshay Kumar) - to extract some important leads. Akshay Kumar in a cameo pulls of his act well but then he has nothing to deliver to propel the story further.

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Varun Dhawan and John Abraham seem to enjoy the camaraderie and have a perfect comic timing. Varun Dhawan reminds Uday Chopra’s side kick act in Dhoom. Saqib Saleem as Viraj Sharma does his bit but he is not so remarkable. Interestingly, both brother-sister duos’ films got released this week. Huma Qureshi stars opposite to the South Indian Super Star Mammooty in a Malayalam film titled as ‘White, which released on the same date.  The female brigade - Nargis Fakhri and Jacqueline Fernandez – unfortunately are just ornamental props. A small time pickpocket Ishika gets entangled in the man-hunt pursued by Kabir and Junaid and tags along with them to all those locations for what, God knows.

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Akshaye Khanna as Wagah, the antagonist is a caricature of what we saw in him in Race. To be honest, this talented actor whom we saw in Taal, Gandhi My Father and many more could have been better in his act after such a long sabbatical. Having said this, he should stop taking breaks and continue to entertain us with much better roles and acts.

This buddy-cop story of Rohit Dhawan and Tushar Hiranandani is full of loopholes but packaged with all predictable comic and fights sequences to make it look entertaining. The only song and music that stays with you is ‘Sau Tarah Ke Rog’. Pritam’s peppy music and Abhijit Vaghani’s background score is pretty ok.

Go and watch Dishoom without much expectation and see how Rohit Dhawan continues to hold on to David Dhawan’s forte of brainless entertainment.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Cast: John Abraham (Kabir Shergill), Varun Dhawan (Junaid Ansari), Akshaye Khanna (Wagah), Saqib Saleem (Viraj Sharma),Jacqueline Fernandez (Ishika), Akshay Kumar (Cameo), Nargis Fakhri (Samaira Dalal)

Genre: Action Adventure

Director: Rohit Dhawan

Producers: Sajid Nadiadwala, Sunil A Lulla

Written by: Hussain Dalal (Dialogues)

Screenplay: Rohit Dhawan, Tushar Hiranandani

Story: Rohit Dhawan

Music by: Pritam (Songs), Abhijit Vaghani (Background Score)

Cinematography: Ayananka Bose

Edited by: Nitin Rokhade, Ritesh Soni

Production: Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment

Distributor: Eros International

Release Date: 29th July, 2016

Duration: 124 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Movie Review: M Cream

M Cream: High on Drugs & Sex!
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I wonder why some movies are made and after watching M Cream I feel may be they are made because we can watch how movies can be made even when you have nothing to say. M Cream is about four youths who bonds in a late night party in one of Delhi’s farmhouses. Figs (Imaad Shah), Jay (Ira Dubey), Niz (Raaghav Chanana) and Maggie (Auritra Ghosh) are always high on drugs and believe in the casualness of life.

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Jay a postmodern intellectual who spouts about freedom, human rights, corruption and environmental issues finds herself in disagreement with Figs who is cynical about everything in life. Figs (Figaro) is in his own world of writing and jotting his thoughts in a diary he carry with him and keeps telling that “Muje sirf charas se pyaar hai”. The two unlikely pairs bond over a time because Jay feels that Figs and she are not so different.

Niz a photographer knows Jay and both are bound to Dharamshala on an assignment to cover the Free Tibetan Movement. Figs and Maggie decides to join them to deal with the sudden undersupply of drugs in the party circuits in Delhi. The existence of M Cream, a mythical drug in the Himalayas drives this foursome to take a road journey together in an open jeep. Figs finds this road journey to Mababajagal, believed to be the world’s oldest democracy is also an escape from the clutches of his parents, Mr. Mrs Bhardwaj’s (Tom Alter & Lushin Dubey) plan to bind him to further academic pursuits and internship with a corporate law firm and Maggie who is a rich pampered brat takes this like any other opportunity to be carefree with Niz.

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Written and directed by Agneya Singh, M Cream is terribly boring and pretentious to its hilt. The characters and their political, social and philosophical discussions and deliberations throughout the film are superficial and hollow. One wonders what actually Agneya Singh wants to convey. Did he want to portray the transformational journey of four youths from waywardness to finding a purpose in life? Did he want to depict the dilemma of being a conformist and a rebel? Did he want to say that it is the person who ultimately finds the purpose and not the other way round? ‘In the throes of anarchy and chaos’; ‘A generation at war itself’; and ‘On the road to rebellion’ are a few taglines the trailer depicts. Then he has miserably failed to convey the message emphatically and portray the same authentically.

What is good about M Cream is its cinematography and its bunch of talented young and veteran actors. M Cream received the ‘Best feature film award’ at the Rhode Island International film Festival 2014 and it has been screened in more than a dozen International film festivals.

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Let me quote Figaro here to express what one feels after watching the movie: “I know the world is a fucked up place But I am also smart enough to know that there is nothing that you or I sitting here in this beautiful posh farmhouse can do about it”. So, let’s hope and wait for Agneya Singh to come out of his love, sex, drugs and rebel-induced hangover and present us a much more sensible and relevant movie. In short, India’s first stoner movie ‘M Cream’ as the filmmaker claims disappoints.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 0.5/5

Cast: Imaad Shah (Figaro), Ira Dubey (Jay), Auritra Ghosh (Maggie), Raaghav Chanana (Niz), Tom Alter (Mr. Bhardwaj), Lushin Dubey (Mrs. Bharadwaj), Barry John (Vishnu Das), Beatrice Ordeix (Marie Sartre)

Genre: Road movie

Director: Agneya Singh

Producer: Vindhya Singh

Produced by: Agniputra Films

Written by: Agneya Singh

Music by: Srijan Mahajan, Arsh Sharma, Mikhil Malik

Cinematography: Mingjue Hu

Distributor: All Rights Entertainment

Released by: PVR Cinemas

Release Date: 22nd July, 2016

Duration: 114 Minutes

Language: English/Hindi

Movie Review: Madaari

Madaari: The Hawkish Chick!
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Madaari is high on delivering social and political awareness to the public and it is a gentle reminder to many in the society to pull their socks because they cannot remain silent against a corrupt system for long.  Madaari is definitely successful in conveying a strong message to the power centers of our country not to underestimate a common man because he/she can play a major role to organize and channelize public anger against a decaying and corruption-ridden so-called democratic system. Its opening lines: “Baaz chuze pe chapta, utta le gaya! Kahani sacchi lagthi hai lekin acchi nahin lagthi! Baaz pe pallatwaar hua! Kahani sacchi nahin lagthi lekin khuda kassam bahuth acchi lagthi hai!” conveys what is in store for the viewers.  Having said this, Nishikant Kamat’s Madaari is nowhere near the brilliance of Neeraj Pandey’s ‘A Wednesday’. 

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Though, Madaari has a similar theme of a common man raising cudgels against the system; Irrfan falls short to the creativity and acting nuances (except for some scenes here and there) Nazeeruddin Shah displayed in ‘A Wednesday’ maybe because Nishikant Kamat’s script is loosely knit with not so strong situations and dialogues that shall keep one glued to the seat for long and help Irrfan to display his acting prowess as he has done in many films in the past.

 The story telling is too slow, there are characters and relationships introduced and not explored further, for instance, Nirmal Kumar’s (Irrfan Khan) relationship with his wife, his father, other siblings and what and how his intercaste marriage rocks his family relationship. These are fleetingly mentioned and not explored fully. One reason could be that it is not the theme of the movie but then when it is mentioned it needs a kind of substantial depiction and evidence to satiate the viewer’s curiosity to know what happened in his personal life apart from the tragedy he is dealing with.  The audience is left to assume about Nirmal Kumar’s profession. Is he an IT professional? Is he an employee of any company? Is he into any kind of IT related business? Or is he a small time freelancer who visits residences and offices to fix their wifi connection and solve IT related glitches (he is shown fixing the wifi connection of a client once)?

Nirmal Kumar is shown disoriented, depressed, suicidal and low on personal hygiene after the tragedy that befell on his son. What is that moment that propels him to come out of such a mental state and help him decide to challenge the system is not clearly depicted rather it is left to the audience assumption.  Nirmal Kumar’s conversations with his kidnapee Rohan (Vishesh Bansal) an eight-year-old elite school hosteller are so poorly written that it doesn’t generate (Except for a few situations) any kind of kidnapper-kidnapee thrills and twists emotionally.
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The climax of Madaari is laughable because of the illogical depiction of a kangaroo court set-up in the middle of a city and that too at Nirmal Kumar’s residence which is already under police surveillance. Jimmy Shergill (Nachiket Verma) as the cop in charge of nabbing Nirmal Kumar is low on energy and lack clever dialogues. The whole army, military and other investigative agencies are shown as passive onlookers in this whole melodrama, whereas the cop mentions somewhere in his dialogues that decisions of choosing his team lies with him but then how to nab the kidnapper will be a team effort including all the top agencies. What happens to Nirmal Kumar at the end is shown but what about the real culprits who take the nation for granted? Nishikant has asked a range of  questions from corruption to sky rocketing prices of vegetables but most of them are left unanswered or probably left to the viewers to ponder.

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Nevertheless, Nishikant Kamat’s Madaari is a onetime watch not because of the story telling but definitely because of its powerful message. It continues its journey in theatres with mixed responses from the audience. Irrfan Khan and Jimmy Shergill’s presence salvage the film to some extent. There are certain scenes that are noteworthy like 1. the hospital scene is heart wrenching when Nirmal Kumar breaks down, 2. the scene where Nirmal Kumar reveals his intentions of what he is going to do with the cheque he has received as a compensation to his personal tragedy, and 3. the last scene of the kidnaper and the kidnapee.   Madaari is a film which could have been a very powerful and far better film if the filmmaker and his team had done their homework seriously. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s lines at the end credits definitely depict the good intentions of the filmmaker: 
 ‘Bol, ke lab azaad hai teri: (Speak, for your lips are free:)
Bol, Zabaan ab tak teri hai, (Speak, your tongue is still yours,)
Tera sutwan jism hai tera – (Your upright body is yours -)
Bol, ke jaan ab tak teri  hai. (Speak, your life is still yours.)

Go and watch for its politically unbiased message which is loud and clear: “ It’s not right to say that the government is corrupt rather it would be right to say that it is for corruption the government is formed”.

 Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Cast: Irrfan Khan (Nirmal Kumar), Jimmy Shergill (Nachiket Verma), Vishesh Bansal (Rohan), Tushar Dalvi  (Prashant Goswami), Uday Tikeker (Nimbalkar)

Genre: Social-political thriller

Director: Nishikant Kamat

Producers: Irrfan Khan, Shailesh Singh, Madan Paliwal, Sutapa Sikdar, Shailaja Kejriwal

Written by: Ritesh Shah (Dialogues)

Screenplay by: Ritesh Shah

Story by:  Shailaja Kejriwal

Music by: Vishal Bhardwaj, sunny-Inder Bawra

Background Score: Sameer Phaterpekar

Cinematography: Avinash Arun

Edited by: Arif Shaikh

Production Company: Paramhans Creations & Saptarishi Cinevision

Distributor: Pooja Entertainment & Films

Release Date: 22nd July, 2016

Duration: 134 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kabali: Lets You Down!
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Pa. Ranjith’s Kabali does injustice to the superstar and his fans worldwide by making a mediocre film. It won’t be fair to blame the makers only; I would like to say that the Superstar himself has done injustice to his fans by signing this film. The long queues, whistles and the dance we see both inside and outside the movie halls are not for the greatness of the movie but sheer love for Rajnikanth. But, then we have seen stars and superstars fade and wane away by the passing of time if they don’t exhibit discretion in choosing good films.
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Kabali is about the rise of a Tamilian worker on the soil of Malaysia against the atrocities and wage discrimination meted upon Indians by the industrialist in Malaysia. A minor protest turns out to be a major strike and the outcome is the rise of a messiah called “Kableeshwaran aka Kabali’ the voice of Tamilians in Mayasia. His rise and influence among the workers soon becomes a threat for the powerful and the mighty. People at the upper  echelons of the government have sleepless nights. Soon Kabali becomes the blue-eyed boy of Tamilnesan gangster played by the veteran actor Nassar. The don’s decision to announce Kabali as his heir brews trouble for Kabali and his family. Soon a young Kabali find himself behind the bars for rioting, killing and other serious offences for twenty-five years. Kabali is shattered and heartbroken after losing his wife and unborn child in the gang war.
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After twenty five years of confinement and unaware about the new dynamics happening in the underworld, Kabali walks out of the four walls of his  jail in style with his dear friend Ameer and other lieutenants waiting outside for his welcome. What follows is predictable – Revenge, flashback, conspiracy, encounters, gang war, family reunion and claiming back Kabali’s empire and supremacy.
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But then in this near to three hours movie the fireworks without any reasons makes you bored, lost and utterly disappointed because you come to know that Kabali fails to live up to its hype. Talented actors like Radhika Apte and Nassar has nothing substantial to do. The villains are involved most of the time in buffoonery. Unfortunately, the movie Kabali reduces a larger than life superstar into a caricature.

Nevertheless, if you are a die-hard Rajni fan you can go and watch Kabali otherwise wait and hope for his next project to be good.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1.5/5

Cast: Rajnikanth (Kabaleeshwaran), Radhika Apte (Kumudhavalli), Winston Chao, Dhansika, Dinesh Ravi (Jeeva), Kishore, Kalaiyarasan, John Vijay, Riythvika (Meena), Rosyam Nor

Genre: Crime Thriller

Director: Pa. Ranjith

Producer: Kalaipuli S. Thanu

Written by: Pa. Ranjith

Music by: Santhosh Narayanan

Cinematography: G. Murali

Edited by: Praveen K.L.

Production Company: V. Creations

Distributor: Gemini Film Circuit

Release Date: 22nd July, 2016

Duration: 152 Minutes

Language: Tamil (Dubbed in Hindi)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Movie Review: Sultan

Sultan: The Unbeatable Both Onscreen and Box Office!
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It seems Eid’s special recipes with Salman Khan Films tastes and goes well together. When the world revels in celebrating Eid, Salman Khan and Sultan’s makers are merrily counting money. Sultan, the Romeo wrestler woos the audience and the result is the film earned a gross of Rupees 320 crore in India when it crossed the tenth day and is still going strong.

The reaction to Salman Khan and his controversial ‘Rape’ statements on how he felt on the sets of Sultan every day after his shooting schedule for many can be likened to the dialogue (“You are a Shit Guy”) of Aarfa Hussain his lover (Anushka Sharma) in the movie when she tells him to stop following her. And the ‘Sultan’ with folded hands in the wrestling ring seeking forgiveness from his opponent after every wrestling bout is contrary to his off-screen image where he continues to repeat the same controversial statement in Kapil Sharma’s show and stops half way bursting into laughter and thus once gain ridiculing the sentiments and concerns raised by many in the country and being unapologetic about it. But then all these controversies don’t affect a Salman Khan film is what the success of ‘Sultan’ proves.

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 Talking about the film Sultan, it definitely has all the clichéd elements at the right place to give the audience a paisa wasool show – ‘Bhai’s fights, jatkas, shirtless scenes and this time an added bonus – Bhai in a ‘Langot’ (loin cloth). Sultan is a journey of triumph of an individual from falling from grace to glory in the eyes of his dear ones and over and above for himself.

Sultan Ali Khan a retired middle-aged wrestling champion employed in Haryana State Water Board, which he got as an honorary job because of his contribution to the state as a sports person lives a solitary life sans his glory. He is out of his professional and personal wrestling ring of life, tired and out of shape in a village called Burari in Rewari district of Haryana. The film is every moment a testimonial for what  Sultan Ali Khan tells in the movie “Asli Pehalwaan Ki Pehchaan Akhade Mai Nahin, Zindagi Mai howe hai” (The real strength of the wrestler is not known in the wrestling ring but in real life). The film talks about what ‘love’ can make you do and how success can take you places as well as why it is important to ensure that your dear ones are not left behind in your stride towards success and fame.

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Akash Oberoi, a young ambitious man who is also the founder of a private mixed-martial arts wrestling league known as ‘Pro Take-Down’ in New Delhi becomes a means for Sultan’s resurrection as a wrestler again. Sultan punches, battles and with his home grown iconic style defeats his opponents in the wrestling ring to bounce back in life. Aakash Oberoi’s effort to revive the already dwindling popularity of ‘Pro Take-Down League’ and keep his investors on board for yet another show leads him to Sultan’s village. His interaction with Sultan and then with his best friend Govind (Anand Vidhaat Sharma) takes us to the flash back of Sultan and Aarfa’s love story which is famous and is known to the whole Rewari district.

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Aarfa a state-level wrestling champion under the mentorship of her father Barkhat Hussain (Kumud Mishra) is on a mission to represent India in the Olympic Games and is not ready to fall for anything and anyone that stops and distracts her from achieving her goal in life. How does a non-wrestler like Sultan woo her? What does she find in Sultan and how a young man who sells satellite channel box and antenna to his village folks ends up becoming the ‘King of the Wrestling Ring’? Is she able to achieve what she wanted to? What happens to Sultan and Aarfa’s love story? To know ‘Wrestling is not a sport, it’s about fighting what lies within’ you need to go and watch Sultan on screen.

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Salman Khan as Sultan is convincing but he still can’t do away with his super stardom and his often repeated jhatkas in some of the song sequences (Baby ko Bass Pasand Hi; Hai Dil Mera Koi Dish Antenna Tha) which is an unnecessary distraction. He is too good in his wrestling sequences in the movie and is far better this time in emoting.

Anushka as Aarfa Hussain as a Haryanvi wrestler has given a decent performance. Her role as a wrestler, lover, wife in estrangement and the complexities could have been portrayed better and explored more. Though, Salman and Anushka’s Haryanvi accent and style in this movie has been criticized a lot but what is interesting to note is that Haryana as a state and its language is soon catching everyone’s fancy in Bollywood (Tanu Weds Manu, Laal Rang, Sultan and the upcoming Dangal). Haryana which used to be shown for khap and honour killings are now also being shown for good reasons too.

The supporting roles played by many talented actors are worth mentioning here like Amit Sadh, Anand Vidhaat, Kumud Mishra and Randeep Hooda.  Amit Sadh as a young ambitious MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) franchise founder and owner catches the audience attention. Anand Vidhaat as Govind, Sultan’s buddy is much appreciated for his role by many. Kumud Mishra as Barkhat Hussain who trains Aarfa and Sultan gives an awesome performance. Randeep Hooda as Fateh Singh the MMA coach has a very short role to play but he is noticeably different.

Songs like ‘Jag Goomeya’ and ‘Saath Samundar’ are too good.

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The film has its drawbacks  like Aarfa who comes to know that she is pregnant is shown in the immediate next frame running and training Sultan, some of the songs as mentioned above are real distractions and are mere attempts to portray Salman’s super stardom and his humdrum dance moves, his parents vanishes in the later part of the movie, his good Samaritan character ferrying school kids to school and dropping them in the middle of the road, Akash Oberoi, a franchise owner going and trying to rope in a local pressure cooker seller to sponsor Sultan are some of the many which I would like to mention and stop myself because it would turn out to be a spoiler.

Nevertheless, Ali Abbaz Zafar’s Sultan can be watched and is definitely an entertainer. Moreover, there is lot of positivity in the story telling. Every time Salman kicks up a controversy he comes out of it and it seems he believes in what he spouts as Sultan on screen “Yeh jo guroor hai… kya kehte hai angrezi mein… Arrogance… yeh arrogance nahi… confidence hai…”. Well, go and watch Sultan for its message – “The common thing between life and the ring is, at times they both put you down…”.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Cast: Salman Khan (Sultan Ali Khan), Anushka Sharma (Aarfa Ali Khan), Anand Vidhaat Sharma (Govind), Amit Sadh (Akash), Randeep Hooda (Fateh Singh), Meiyang Chang (Pro Takedown Host), Kumud Mishra (Barkhat Hussain)

Genre: Sports-Drama Film

Director: Ali Abbaz Zafar

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Written by: Ali Abbaz Zafar

Music by: Julius Packiam (Score), Vishal-Shekhar (Songs)

Cinematography: Artur Zurawski

Edited by: Rameshwar S. Bhagat

Production Company: Yash Raj Films

Distributor: Yash Raj Films

Release Date: 6th July, 2016

Duration: 170 Minutes

Language: Hindi