Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shivaay: Movie Review

Shivaay: Devgn’s Most Audacious Film!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

While the titans clash at the box office this Diwali to have an edge over the other, I feel Shivaay will have the last laugh. Ajay Devgn’s production company way back in 2000 came up with its first movie ‘Raju Chacha’ and in 2008 he co-produced ‘U, Me Aur Hum’ which also marked his directorial debut. Now, with Shivaay Ajay Devgn the Actor, Producer and Director has come a long way. He is known to take cudgels against the biggies in the industry and in ‘Shivaay’ he does the same without bothering about the consequences in store for him. I think he is pretty comfortable doing that both off and onscreen.

Shivaay is breathtaking in its action sequence though it goes a bit over board in doing that as if Ajay Devgn enjoys his indulgence in performing stunts. We can even sense a Rohit Shetty influence when the vehicles crashes each other after a heady race and piles up on the street while the hero escapes unhurt with valor.

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Shivaay is the story of an audacious mountaineer and a trek guide who lives on the Himalayas. He feels and believes that he is the lad of the snow-clad mountains where Shiva resides. The dialogue fits apt for his character – “Isko kante lage na kankar raan mein rudra gharon mein Shankar, aant yahi sare bhighayon ka iss Bhole ka vaar bhaynkar”. Shivaay during one of his trekking expedition with a bunch of youngsters comes across a Bulgarian girl Olga (Polish Actress Erika Kaar) who speaks Hindi fluently because of her brief stint as a student in Delhi University. Their trekking expedition becomes quite eventful because of a natural calamity and what follows is a stunning action sequence amidst horrifying avalanche and snow storm.

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Shivaay and his team nurse an injured Olga till she recuperates. But before she leaves to Bulgaria she leaves behind a doll (child) in the custody of Shivaay and knits a handmade doll to take care of her daughter because she has many other lives back in Bulgaria to take care off. Nine years later, Shivaay and his daughter Gaura (British Child actor Abigail Eames) sets forth to Bulgaria to visit Olga for once because Gaura stumbles upon a well-guarded secret about her supposedly dead mother.

Shivaay and Gaura’s visit to Bulgaria has many things in store for them which is brutal as well as fatal too. Will, they survive the onslaught of the Bulgarian and Russian mafias. What upsets the Bulgarian Police and Government? Why Shivaay is declared a fugitive is quite interesting to know. Will Gaura meet her mother? Is she alive?

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The film Shivaay has some veteran actors like Girish Karnad and Saurabh Shukla but unfortunately Ajay Devgn fails to do justice to the caliber of these actors. Sayyeshaa Saigal as Anushka the Indian Embassy official is good. Her bond with her father is stretched beyond the requirement just to justify that there are other father daughter duo on this planet who bond well. The last dialogue by Anushka to Shivaay that it is difficult for those daughters to find a match whose fathers are too good is out of place and unnecessary. Vir Das as an ethical hacker and friend of Anushka plays well his role but is short lived. Erika Kaar and Abigail Eames are convincing in their respective roles as mother and daughter.

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Aseem Bajaj’s work as a cinematographer in Shivaay is noteworthy. The panoramic aerial shots of the snow covered mountains, the trenches, and the avalanches by Aseem is so well done that it leaves you mesmerized. The constant Shiva chant with the background score ups the tempo of this action thriller.

Shivaay falters in the department of editing. It could have been far more trimmed but it stretches to almost three hours which makes the story a bit tardy and the viewing tedious. There is no songs that stays with you. The fight and stunt sequence are too long and it goes on and on which makes you lose the interest. Moreover, Ajay Devgn is less human and more of a superhero which is a major drawback of this film because it makes one hard to relate to the happenings on screen.

In short, it will be unjustified to write off Devgn’s honest attempt to give an action thriller even though it has many flaws. Shivaay, I must say is a straw to hold on to celebrate Diwali for many cine goers who felt disappointed after watching Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. At least, it has a story to tell with some technically sound action sequences.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3/5

Cast: Ajay Devgn (Shivaay), Erika Kaar (Olga), Abigail Eames (Gaura), Sayyeshaa Saigal (Anushka), Vir Das (Wahab), Girish Karnad, Saurabh Shukla, Bijou Thaangjam

Genre: Action, Thriller

Director: Ajay Devgn

Producer: Ajay Devgn

Written by: Sandep Srivastava, Robin Bhatt

Story by: Ajy Devgn

Music by: Jasleen Royal, Mithoon

Cinematography: Aseem Bajaj

Production: Ajay Devgn FFilms, Pen India Limited, NH Studioz

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Release Date: 28th October, 2016

Duration: 173 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil : Movie Review

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Johar’s Ceremonial Farce!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

The two main protagonists of Karan johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ (ADHM) are Pyar (Love) and Dosti (Friendship) because according to ADHM “Ajeeb kahani hai pyar aur dosti ke rishtey ki … pyar hamara hero, dosti hamari heroine” (The story of love and friendship is strange … love is our hero and friendship is our heroine). Well, ADHM doesn’t stop there it has some more - ‘Mohabath karna hamare bas main nahin hai … us mohabath se door chale jana … woh hamare bas main hai” (It’s not within our control to fall in love… but to go far away from that love … is within our control); “Love teda hai… lekin us teda love mein bhi sukoon paana sirf kuch logon ko aata hai” (Love is crooked… but only some people know how to find peace in that crooked love).

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After listening to these cheesy dialogues, I take the liberty to reframe it for Karan Johar – 1.  “Ajeeb kahani hai Karan, ADHM aur audience ke rishtey ki … Karan hamara hero, ADHM hamari heroine aur audience hamara villain” (The story of Karan, ADHM and audience is strange … Karan is our hero, ADHM is our heroine and audience the villain); 2. ‘Mohabath karna filmonse hamare bas main nahin hai … kharabh filmonse se door chale jana … woh hamare bas main hai” (It’s not within our control to fall in love with films… but to go far away from poorly made films … is within our control); and 3. “Mera film teda hai… lekin us teda film mein bhi sukoon paana sirf muje aata hai” (My film is crooked… but only I know how to find peace in that crooked film).

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The stylish, beautiful and handsome actors; beautiful locales; music and its lyrics are the saving grace of ADHM otherwise everything else is absurd and disjointed. ADHM tries hard to show a strong bonding and camaraderie among its characters be it Ayan and Alizeh or Ayan and Saba; the result is superficial situations laced with hollow dialogues; forced bickering throughout the film among the lead characters; a series of illogical and hard to believe breakups; and a laughable climax.

It’s very sad to write such a review on an eagerly awaited movie like ADHM to celebrate Diwali. Karan Johar need to do a serious review of all the feedbacks he is receiving on this movie so that he doesn’t dish out another one like this in the garb of telling his real life story and take his audience for granted. Had ADHM been a highly entertaining and soulful film it would have been a tight slap to all who tried to ban his film because of their dubious intentions to barter a deal for its release but he failed miserably.

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Nevertheless, Ranbir as Ayan tries to do justice to what Karan Johar wanted out of him, Anushka as Alizeh is too good where she breaks down after seeing her ex love and tries to escape from the reality but most of the time she appears to act than live her character on screen, Aishwarya is elegant as Saba and Fawad appears as a dashing young DJ. Pritam’s music and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are soulful and hummable and their work has turned out to be the major strength of the movie to be in the theatres for some more time I guess.

In short, Karan through his film ADHM appears to be: 1. confused like his characters on screen about love being misinterpreted as causal non-committal physical proximity and make self and others believe that his/her love is ‘Kaamil’ (complete); 2. Love is passion and friendship is peace and then confusing the audience saying that love is ‘Tabaahi’ (catastrophe) and one doesn’t want to get tabaah therefore, is trying to find solace in friendship but its ok to jump in to bed and make love (nonsensical); 3. Jismani rishtey (physical relationship) cannot survive but ironically the characters are fully indulging in this. Well, dear Karan Johar we respect you and value you as a filmmaker who has tried to give some good movies but please try to understand and review your dialogue in regard to making films– “ Ek tarfaa pyar ki taakat hi kuch aur hota hai auron ki rishte ki tarah ye do logon mein nahin bant’ti  sirf mera haq hai ispe’ because filmein ek tarfa nahin hosakta dear, isko do tarfa hi rakhe, ek aap aur dusra hum audience ke beech.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1.5/5

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor (Ayan Sanger), Anushka Sharma (Alizeh), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Saba), Lisa Haydon (Lisa), Imraan Abbas (dr. Faizal), Fawad Khan (Ali), Shah Rukh Khan (Tahir Taliyar Khan, Cameo), Alia Bhatt (special appearance)

Genre: Romance

Director: Karan Johar

Producers: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta

Written by: Karan Johar

Music by: Pritam

Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya

Cinematography: Anil Mehta

Production: Dharma Productions

Distributor: Fox Star Studios

Release Date: 28th October, 2016

Duration: 157 Minutes

Language: Hindi 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

मैं और तुम (Me & You) (Hindi Poetry)

मैं और तुम

मैं और तुम
एक ही सिक्के के
दो पहलु हैं,
मैं तुम्हे और तुम मुझे
अच्छी तरह जानते हो I

सिर्फ फर्क इतना है कि
हम दो दिशा में देखते हैं,
लोग तुम्हे चित्त  
तो मुझे पट कहते हैं I

न तुम, न मैं
रह सकते एक दूजे के बगैर,
हम में से एक नहीं
तो ज़िन्दगी खोटा हो जाता हैं I

यहाँ तक कि लोग करते है
अपनी ज़िन्दगी के अहम फैसले
हमें  उछालकर,
कभी चित्त तो कभी पट पर
लगती है बाजी,
तुम जीते या मैं,
ज़िन्दगी के फैसले हम करते हैं I

लोगों की हथेलियों से कई जेबों तक
और लोगों के जेबों से कई हथेलियों तक के सफर
हम ने साथ-साथ तय किया है,
कितनों ने किया इस्तेमाल
और कितनों ने उछाला,
हम ने चूँ तक नहीं बोला I

बस मेरे दोस्त बस
अब हमें एक ही दिशा में देखना है,
हमें दूसरों की नहीं
अब  हमारी ज़िन्दगी के फैसले करने हैं I

मैं और तुम
एक ही सिक्के के
दो पहेलु हैं,
मैं तुम्हे और तुम मुझे
अच्छी तरह जानते हो I

                                             (थोमस मैथ्युस)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Queen of Katwe: Movie Review

Queen of Katwe: The Triumph of an Underdog!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Mira Nair's film 'Queen of Katwe' a biographical sports drama has all those ingredients and elements that shall boost your faith and belief that there is nothing unachievable in this world. You are the master of your failures and triumphs; choose who you want to be. The story depicts the journey of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) a Ugandan pre-teen girl living in Kampala slum of Katwe being spotted by a local Christian missionary Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who runs a children's chess club and offers free porridge as part of his missionary work among the poor and the needy.

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Madina Nalwanga and David Oyelowo's characters offers a life full of experiences and lessons of how winning can become a herculean task and in the journey of achieving your goal how you get exhausted, torn apart, being accepted, rejected, feeling joyful, sad, doubtful and even ready to quit. As someone has aptly said - "Experience is not what happens to a person, but it is what the person does with what happens to him/her". This Disney movie not only have lessons for individuals but also for a family on how to be partners in progress with a member in the family who attempts to tread an unconventional path.
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Mira Nair's film is based on Tim Crothers  book with the same title with a tagline - "One Girl's Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion". It writes about how one day in 2005 in search of food a slum girl in Katwe along with her brother reached a makeshift children clubhouse where she finds her mentor who was destined to change her life forever through the game called chess. Initially, it was free porridge that brought the children to Robert Katende's club but many of them slowly started loving the game that resonated their lives of dealing with obstacles constantly be it poverty, homelessness, ostracism and marginalization. Among these children Phiona Mutesi emerges as a prodigy to become her country's 'Junior Champion by the age of eleven and at fifteen, the 'National Champion'. The first female titled player in her country's history, Phiona now a 'Woman Candidate Master' dreams of bagging the most elite title for her - 'The Grandmaster'.
The Real Life Star Phiona Mutesi (Image courtesy):
Lupita Nyong'o the Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actress in Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' (2013) plays the role of Phiona's mother, Harriet. Lupita Nyong'o has given a stupendous performance as Harriet, a mother who is fiercely protective of her children as well as is determined to wade through the uncertainties of her life to ensure food, cloth and a roof for her children.  Her life with her children and the events of their life tugs at your heartstrings.

The relationship between the coach Robert Katende and the coachee Phiona Mutesi keeps  us awestruck. It's so inspirational and moving that it reminded me of what Martin Luther King Jr has once said - "We will err and falter as we climb the unfamiliar slopes of steep mountains. There will be agonizing setbacks along with creative advances'.

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Mira Nair deftly captures the stark reality of the Kampala slum life on reel that the line that separates the real and the reel diminishes many a time leaving you with a lump in your throat. I remember meeting Mira Nair at 'The I View World Film Festival' in New Delhi in the month of March 2016, where some of the unedited scenes of Queen of Katwe was screened. The audience then in the hall gave her a standing ovation for coming up with such an inspirational biopic on Phiona Mutesi. The discussion that followed after the screening was engaging on the life of people in Kampala where Ms. Nair runs a small film Academy as well. Mira Nair successfully doesn't limit the story to a family drama but she takes it further to an international level where she portrays the life and triumph of a slum girl who becomes her nation's pride. Her film through the story of Phiona Mutesi raises many pertinent questions on the economic disparity, the untapped talents among the under privileged class, the system's failure to find them, encourage them and the poor medical facilities available to a commoner in her country.

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Please do not miss the closing credits because the film's credit introduces the real life heroes who has inspired the film alongside each actor and tells us what they have accomplished until now. In short, Queen of Katwe makes you find the hidden King and Queen within you and inspire you to pursue your path undeterred to the goal which you have set for yourself beating all those moves kept by your opponents on the chess board of life. Remember, in chess, the small one can become the big one! Be like Phiona Mutesi who can see eight moves in advance!!!

 Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Cast: Madina Nalwanga (Phiona Mutesi), David Oyelowo (Robert Katende), Lupita Nyong'o (Nakku Harriet), Martin Kabanza (Mugabi Brian), Taryn Kyaze (Night), Ivan Jacobo (Young Richard), Nicolas Levesque (Older Richard), Ronald Ssemaganda (Ivan), Ethan Nazario Lubega (Benjamin), Nikita Waligwa (Gloria), Edgar Kanyike (Joseph), Esther Tebandeke (Sara Katende)

Genre: Biographical Sports Drama

Director: Mira Nair

Producers: John Carls, Lydia Dean Pilcher

Based on: The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's
                Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster

Screenplay by: William Wheeler

Music by: Alex Heffes

Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt

Edited by: Barry Alexander Brown

Production Companies: Walt Disney Pictures, ESPN Films, Cine Mosaic, Mirabai Films

Distributors: Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures

Release Date: 7th October, 2016

Duration: 124 Minutes

Language: English

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

कश्तियाँ (Boats) (Poetry)

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कागज़ की कश्तियाँ
मैं अक्सर बनाता हूँ,
यह जानते हुए भी
कि इसका यूँ बना रहना
कितना मुश्किल है,
इन कश्तियों का गली के
बहते पानी में यूँ डूब जाना
मेरे लिए ताज्जुब की
बात नही है,
क्योंकि मेरे सपने भी
मेरे साथ अक्सर ऐसे ही
खेल खेला करते हैं I 
(थोमस मैथ्युस)