Friday, September 30, 2016

M.S. Dhoni - The Untold Story : Movie Review

     M.S. Dhoni - The Untold Story: Strikes An Emotional Chord!
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'M.S. Dhoni - The Untold Story' is a film that portrays the life of a man who is known worldwide for his cricket feats as well as for his alleged controversies as a captain and the IPL spot-fixing charges. The film's title draws curiosity due to two reasons - one because of the man himself and two to know what is 'The Untold Story'. Well, the film and its makers prefer to toe a line of caution and non-controversy by terminating the film at that momentous occasion of winning the '2011 World Cup' for India. Dhoni himself in one of his film's promotional media interaction recently has said that it is good that a sequel of the film is not made because he knows that his career is mired in controversies and alleged charges of involvement in match-fixing.  

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Sushant Singh Rajput as M.S. Dhoni is strikingly similar to the man he portrays onscreen and is successful in aping many of Dhoni's mannerism. Sushant has done justice to the biopic by his presence. What keeps you glued to your seat is the positivity the film emanates which is quite inspiring. A school kid who is hooked to  a range of sports other than cricket because he feels there is no fun playing with a small ball is slowly maneuvered into cricket by his school coach Banerjee (Rajesh Sharma). The boy lovingly called as Mahi is always under the watchful eyes of his father Pan Singh Dhoni (Anupam Kher) who believes that sports doesn't promise a secure future and therefore, he needs to study hard to get into a government job. Caught between his dream to become a cricketer and his father's expectation out of him to secure a government job, Mahi treads a path of challenges and uncertainties.

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Backed by a bunch of childhood friends Santhosh (Kranti Prakash Jha), Chittu (Alok Pandey), Sandip Nahar and Jitin Gulati, a supportive mother, sister and a reluctant father, Dhoni slowly inches towards becoming one of the most successful cricket captain of India. The scenes of many real time footages of cricket and the film's background score creates a similar euphoria of a cricket stadium in the theatre. I found many in the audience behaving as if they were in the galleries cheering for the Indian team and their favorite MSD.
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Neeraj Pandey scripts Dhoni's journey from a ticket collector to a cricketer very cleverly by only touching upon those areas and achievements that lauds him as a model sportsman. Well, it works for the film sans controversies and it seems that the viewers are enjoying too. Anupam Kher as MSD's father is outstanding in portraying the life of a typical middle class man concerned about his children's future. Bhumika as his sister Jayanti enacting the role of an ever trusting and loving sister is too good. The sister-brother relationship portrayed in the film is beautiful. Kranti Prakash Jha an actor who is known for films like 'Deswa' (Bhojpuri), 'Once Upon a Time in Bihar', 'Mithila Makhaan' is noticeable as one of the friends of MSD in this film. His film Mithila Makhaan directed by Nitin Chandra bagged the Best Maithili Film in the 63rd National Film Awards under the language section. Kranti Prakash Jha is an actor who is on the move to prove his mettle. Rajesh Sharma as the quirky Bengali cricket coach gives us some wonderful laughable moments and stays in our mind as a man who first spotted the prodigy and became instrumental in gifting Dhoni the cricketer to our country.  Disha Patani as Mahi's ex girlfriend and Kiara Advani as Sakshi Dhoni are good but have less to offer because it's all about the man called Dhoni.

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In short, it seems Neeraj Pandey and his team has struck gold once again by making     'M .S. Dhoni - The Untold Story'. They would have done much more justice to the title 'The Untold Story' if this film would have also covered those alleged charges of IPL fixing, rifts between cricketers, his rumored unholy nexus with the man called N Srinivasan and his cronies. It seems that the 'Untold Story' shall remain 'Untold Forever'. Nevertheless, the film is entertaining and can be seen by both the fans as well as those who doesn't know much about cricket and sports. It is a story of friendship, mentoring, dreams, family bonding, challenges and triumph.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3.5/5

Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput (Mahendra Singh Dhoni), Kranti Prakash Jha (Santhosh), Jitin Gulati, Sandip Nahar, Alok Pandey (Chittu), Herry Tangri (Yuvraj Singh), Anupam Kher (Pan Singh Dhoni), Bhumika Chawla (Sister), Disha Patani (Priyanka Jha), Kiara Advani (Sakshi Dhoni), Rajesh Sharma (Banerjee), Kumud Mishra, Ashrut Jain ( Shabbir Hussain)

Genre: Biopic

Based On: Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Director: Neeraj Pandey

Producers: Arun Pandey, Fox Star Studios

Story by: Neeraj Pandey, Dilip Jha

Screenplay: Neeraj Pandey, Dilip Jha

Dialogues: Neeraj Pandey

Music by: Amaal Malik,  Rochak Kohli

Background Score: Sanjoy Chowdhury

Cinematography: Santosh Tundiyil

Edited by: Shree Narayan Singh

Production Company: Fox Star Studios, Inspired Entertainment, Friday FilmWorks

Distributor: Fox Star Studios

Release Date: 30th September, 2016

Duration: 190 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Parched : Movie Review

Parched: The Quest for Freedom & Equality!
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Leena Yadav's 'Parched' is a pitched battle between the present age Durgas and Mahisasurs of our society. It is a peek into the age old gender insensitivity and inequality existing in our country. Leena chose a desert village in Rajastan as the backdrop to narrate a compelling story about three women Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Bijli (Surveen Chawla) and a child bride Janaki (Lehar Khan) who battles with the harsh realities of their life.

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Parched, beautifully narrates the quest for freedom and equality desired by these four women. Rani a widow is left to take care of her bedridden old mother-in-law and is under debt because of the loan she has taken to pay the dowry to bring a daughter-in-law for her wayward teenaged son Gulab (Riddhi Sen). She has no one except her friends to vent her emotions and anger which she keeps otherwise veiled from the rest of the world. Lajjo goes through silently an abusive marriage where her husband batters her day in and day out for being barren. Bijli a modern nautch girl who camps in villages with her master's travelling troupe not only dance but also entertain clients who are interested in carnal pursuits brought in by her boss. Janaki a reluctant bride has her own secrets to keep and is constantly abused by Gulab.

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Last week we had Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's Pink in theatres and for discussions on blogs, dinner tables and cafes. This week we have Parched set in rural India. Both the movies raise  common issues like - gender bias, domestic violence, marital rape etc.  

The women in the movie has given a fabulous performance duly supported by the actors like Adil Hussain, Sumeet Vyas, Riddhi Sen, and Chetan Sharma. Riddhi Sen and Chetan Sharma are actors who need to get more opportunities to display their talents. Chetan Sharma's 'Saankal' directed by Dedipya Joshi is yet another women centric movie which has already made waves in many film festivals in India and abroad. Mirch Masala, Angry Indian Goddesses, Kajarya, Jugni, Nil Battey Sannata, Pink to name a few has made a very positive impact on its audience and has left many for wanting more from these filmmakers.

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 Parched since its release abroad an year ago is on a high worldwide and I am sure its release in India has already generated positive responses and constructive discussions around the cause it raises.  Parched is a must watch not because of its story but because it makes us reflective and more responsible towards all humans irrespective of gender, class, rural and urban divide. It reiterates the importance for freedom for women and celebrating womanhood.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Cast: Tannishtha Chatterjee (Rani), Radhika Apte (Lajjo), Surveen Chawla (Bijli), Leher Khan (Janaki), Adil Hussain, Sumeet Vyas, Sayani Gupta, Riddhi Sen, Chetan Sharma

Genre: Drama

Director: Leena Yadav

Producer: Ajay Devgn

Written by: Leena Yadav

Music by: Hitesh Sonik

Cinematography: Russell Carpenter

Production: Ajay Devgn FFilms

Release Date: 23rd September, 2016

Duration: 118 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Banjo : Movie Review

Banjo: Riteish's Solo-Hero Outing Fizzle!
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Ravi Jadhav's Bollywood directorial debut Banjo fails to enthuse the audience full scale. Riteish Deshmukh tries hard to hold on solely till the end to give his audience a fair deal but succumbs to poor story line, haphazard sequences, and a misfit heroine (Nargis Fakhri) who fails to complement his acting skills. Banjo had all the potential to be a fabulous musical treat laced with the story of a bunch of street musicians who make to the world stage with original and credible music due to sheer grit, commitment, passion and focus. It could have been truly motivational and an inspiring story about a girl who travels from New York to cherry pick some raw talents to polish them into gems to present to the world. It could have showcased the power of music that can bind the world together irrespective of its color, creed, religion, and culture. Well, it's unfortunate to say that Banjo that evoked high expectations through its trailers and posters fails to fulfill what it promised. It terribly missed an opportunity.

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Banjo is about four slum dwellers: Taraat (Riteish Deshmukh) is an extortionist under the aegis of a corporator, Grease (Dharmesh Yelande) is a car mechanic, Paper (Aditya Kumar) is a paperboy, and Vajaya (Ram Menon, accompanies his father to small musical shows). These four friends apart from their trade to earn a living they also bond together on music as a ragtag band who play at different festive events organized by individuals and local slum committees. In one such event they are heard by a sound recordist Mikey (Luke Kenny). Mikey impressed by their talent sends the glimpses of the show to his dear friend Christina (Nargis Fakhri) in New York. Christina an Indian American musician is highly fascinated by their music and decides to come to India to make two music tracks to participate in an upcoming international music competition.

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The film is botched due to unwanted subplots, builder-corporator nexus, extortion, Pseudo NGOisms and poorly portraying slum dwellers as women oglers. Banjo's lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya and music  by Vishal-Shekhar are the only relief we get as audience.  But then it is better to watch its music videos on YouTube or on Television rather than spending your money in a theatre. As the lead protagonish Taraat says repeatedly in the film - "Zindagi mai do choices hoti hai...", I would also like to quote that Banjo gives us two choices : One, to watch and forget it forever and two, not to watch it. Go for your choice, it's a free world.  

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1.5/5

Cast: Riteish Deshmukh (Taraat), Nargis Fakhri (Christina), Darmesh Yelande (Grease), Aditya Kumar (Paper), Ram Menon (Vajaya)­­­­­­­­­, Luke Kenny (Mikey)

Genre: Musical Drama

Director: Ravi Jadhav

Producer: Krishika Lulla

Written by: Kapil Sawant, Nikhil Mehrotra, Ravi Jadhav

Music by: Vishal-Shekhar

Choreography: Bosco-Caeser

Production Company: Eros International

Distributor: Eros International

Release Date: 23rd September, 2016

Duration: 138 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

मेरा हर रिश्ता (Relationship) (Poetry)

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मेरा हर रिश्ता उस चबूतरे की तरह है
जहाँ से गाँव का हर कोना नज़र आता है I
जहाँ कभी दिवाली के दीये भी जलाया जाते है
और जहाँ नशेड़ियों का अड्डा भी जमता है I

मेरा हर रिश्ता
कभी गाँव की उस मासूम लड़की की तरह है
जिसको किसी से नज़र मिलाना भी पाप लगता है
तो कभी उस वेश्या की तरह भी है
जिसको कभी न बुझने वाली प्यास और वासना है I

मेरा हर रिश्ता
गाँव के उस दालान की तरह है
जहाँ पंचायत कभी न्याय-अन्याय का फैसला भी करती है
तो कभी वहाँ मासूमों की बली भी चढ़ायी जाती है I

मेरा हर रिश्ता
गाँव का वह चौराहा है
जहाँ सारे दिन तो हलचल होती है
लेकिन रात के वीराने में कुत्ता भी
उसका साथ छोड़ जाता है I
मेरा हर रिश्ता
उस दीवार की तरह है
जहाँ कभी तो समय दरक कर
अपने निशान छोड़ जाता है
तो कभी पर्व-त्योहार के बहाने
उसकी सफेदी भी कराई जाती है I

मेरा हर रिश्ता ...
(थोमस मैथ्यूज)
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

परछाई (Poetry)

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तुम मेरी परछाई कभी न बनना
परछाई से मुझे नफरत है और ड़र भी I
यह कभी है तो कभी नहीं
कभी करीब तो कभी दूर I

जब अपना राक्षसी मूह खोले
सूरज सामने से चला आता है
हमे निगलने
परछाई छिप जाती है कहीं पीछे
और बिखर जाते हैं सारे सपने
साथ निभाने के
तुम मेरी परछाई कभी न बनना I

तपती धूप में जब हो सूरज सर पर
परछाई छिप जाती है कहीं
एक क्षण के लिए ढ़ह जाती है
सारे वादे
तुम मेरी परछाई कभी न बनना I
जब हो सूरज पीठ पीछे
अपने औजार लिए
एक और वार की तलाश में
परछाई भाग जाती है आगे
तुम मेरी परछाई कभी न बनना I

जब सूरज मायूस हो
अपने विफल कोशिश से
जा छिपता है किसी ओट में
करने को आखरी वार की तैयारी
एक बार फिर
अंधेरे में अकेले, असहाय और घायल
छोड़ जाती है परछाई
तुम मेरी परछाई कभी न बनना
परछाई से मुझे नफरत है और ड़र भी I

(थोमस मैथ्यूज)
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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pink : Movie Review

Pink: She is on the Warpath!
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Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's 'Pink' is a must watch to know what actually a 'No' means because a 'No' is not just a word; it means a choice, right, and decision of a woman to execute her feeling she is going through then and there. And men need to learn to respect their choice and right to say 'No' and that a single woman, a friendly girl, or a woman who shares a drink doesn't mean that she is available. Rashmi Sharma and Shoojit Sircar, the producers of the movie has teamed up with the Shahenshah of Bollywood to give us an entirely different message through 'Pink'. Shoojit Sircar had already won many hearts for his previous film 'Piku'.  Ably directed by Aniruddha Chowdhury who has given some memorable and remarkable Bengali films like Anuranan, Antahin, and Aparajita Tumi has indeed made a dashing Bollywood debut through Pink.

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Pink unrolls an incident of molestation and attempt to rape that embroils the life of three working women Meenal Arora, Falak Ali and Andrea in Delhi which results into a nightmare for them. A late night out at a rock concert followed by a dinner invite at a resort in Surajkund by three boys whom they met through a common friend triggers a chain of unpleasant incidents that rocks their peaceful life.

Some incidents can break you or it can make you strong. When you are pushed against the wall you have two choices: one, to succumb to the pressure and two, to gather all your might to push back and free yourself from the opponent to let him know that you are not yet ready to accept defeat. The three women in question opted for the second as they were not left with any other choice like many other women in our country by the men who have a patriarchal and feudal mindset of seeing women as weaklings and lesser beings.

Pink goes ballistic through its plot against the atrocities that is unleashed every day in the life of millions of women in our country and around the world. Amitabh Bachchan as Deepak Sehgal, a retired lawyer has been a silent witness of the whole ordeal the three girls have gone through who actually stays across his flat, decides to take up the case as their defense lawyer. The courtroom drama that hovers around the incident takes many satirical digs on male chauvinism, conservative mindset of our so-called progressive society, its misconception about perfect womanhood and their selective moral yardsticks for women.

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Amitabh Bachchan in his unique style and baritone voice spews anger as the defense counsel and list down points that can be made into a  'Women Safety Manual Rule Book' based on the arguments presented by his equally talented counterpart and prosecution lawyer Prashant played by Piyush Mishra in the film. Both Amitabh Bachchan and Piyush Mishra are outstanding and ups the court room drama by their performances, though, at times they go a bit over board and are found to be rhetoric. Dhritiman Chatterjee as the presiding judge makes the whole proceedings intriguing by his comments and timely interventions between the warring lawyers defending their clients.

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Angad Bedi who plays the spoiled brat Rajveer who is the son of a politician stands apart and has done an impressive act. He is well supported by Raashul Tandon as Dumpy and Tushar Pandey as Vishwa who tries to broker peace between the girls and the boys. Vijay Varma one among the boys who actually was not there during the said incident plays a perfect misogynist pig who is hell bent to teach the girls a lesson for going against them. Mamta Malik as the Haryanvi SHO who manipulates with the FIR register and is found to favour the politician's brats leaves a mark through her performance.

All the three girls are so realistic in their performance that you go through the ordeal along with them. The pain, embarrassment in the court, the anger, the outburst, the helplessness and all those emotional upheavals they go through becomes your own. They have only one to look upon that is their guardian angel Deepak Sehgal. Taapsee Pannu as Minal is brilliant, consistent and credible in her role. She is well supported by Kirti Kulhari as Falak Ali. Kirti's outburst followed by a breakdown moves you and numbs you. It's hard to take humiliation and even harder when the world casts doubt on you for no fault of yours. She turned the tables on her tormentors by her bold and shocking statement and makes a point loud and clear that a 'No' is a 'No'!  Andrea Tariang as a girl from Meghalaya representing the 'North East' tag enacts very well her vulnerabilities and fear of being considered as the 'Other' in her own country and how hard it is to escape the prying eyes of the perverts who think that girls from their part of the country means 'Available'.

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Pink despite its strong social message and stellar performances from all the actors has its share of flaws. A few to mention without revealing much: why the boys and their family remains low once the case goes to the court even after being in power and having all the muscle power is not mentioned or justified; after the Surajkund molestation bid there is another kidnap and molestation that happens with one of the girl in a moving car in the busy streets of Delhi which is not raised or even mentioned in the court by the defense lawyer Deepak Sehgal; the kind hearted and supporting house owner played by Vijay Nagpal is not even called or mentioned in the court as a party to collect evidence against the boys; the defense lawyer and his bipolar disorder is fleetingly mentioned and conveniently ignored; the ailing wife of the retired lawyer and they being a childless couple in the story doesn't further the story telling in any way.

Nevertheless, Pink is a must watch because such movies need to be appreciated for its social relevance and for its potential of being a change catalyst.  It is powerful, brave and unadulterated. Go and watch along with your family because women play a significant role and completes a family and this film is about her. Pink has a message for both men and women - Men who doesn't understand the value of a woman and women who still thinks and believes that Men needs to be in control of everything. While you watch the closing credits roll with the scenes of that fateful night at the resort in Surajkund you will also hear a powerful poem in the background recited by Amitabh Bachchan. The poem will stay with you and remind you to be bold and fearless to stand for your rights and equality.

"Tu Khud Ki Khoj Mai Nikal                                                                                           Tu Kis Liye Hathash Hai                                                                                                    Tu Chal Tere Vajud Ki                                                                                                    Samay Ko Bhi Talash Hai"

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan (Deepak Sehgal), Taapsee Pannu (Minal Arora), Kirti Kulhari (Falak Ali), Andrea Tariang (Andrea), Angad Bedi (Rajveer Singh), Raashul Tandon (Raunak Anand aka Dumpy), Tushar Pandey (Vishwa), Mamta Malik as Haryanvi Police officer Sarala Premchand), Dhritiman Chatterjee (Judge), Vijay Verma (Ankit Malhotra), Dibang (ACP), Mamta Shankar (Sara), Vinod Nagpal (Kasturi Lal), Sudhanva Deshpande (Javed), Pawan Mahendroo (Minal's Father)

Genre: Thriller, Drama

Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

Producers: Rashmi Sharma, Shoojit Sircar

Story by: Ritesh Shah

Screenplay: Ritesh Shah

Music by: Shantanu Moitra, Faiza Mujahid, Anupam Roy

Cinematography: Abhik Mukhopadhyay

Edited by: Bodhaditya Banerjee

Production: Rashmi Sharma Telefilms Limited

Distributor: NH Studioz

Release Date: 16th September, 2016

Duration: 136 Minutes

Language: Hindi