Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dangal (movie Review)

In Life’s ‘Dangal’ Everyone Writes Their Own Destiny!
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Dangal like many other sports movies that were made in the recent past talks about a particular sport and through it tells us about its protagonist’s journey from an ordinary to an extraordinary being. Here in the case of Dangal, it’s a sport biopic made on the well-known National Wrestling Champion Mahavir Singh Phogat and his two successful daughters Geeta and Babita who are known for their many successful feats in the arena of wrestling. The Phogat sisters have their story of triumphs – Geeta grabbed attention worldwide because she became the first Indian wrestler to win the Gold Medal in the category of 55 Kg and her younger sister Babita came into the limelight when she won the Silver Medal in 51 Kg category at 2010 Commonwealth Games.

What makes Dangal worth watching is not the achievements of the Phogat sisters mentored by their father but their journey to reach where they are today and how they became a reason for a huge paradigm shift for not only the family and village Balali, Bhiwani district, Haryana they belong but also to many in our country who belittled girls and their ability to be equally good like boys in any field they are in.

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Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat is not a misogynist as such but he has his own rigid and traditional patriarchal mindset that makes him long for a son who every time gets disappointed hearing the birth of a daughter. And in his pursuit of having a son he ends up fathering four daughters. What is noteworthy here is that he confides to his wife why he wants a son and not bearing him a son is not her mistake. He also conveys how much he loves all his daughters. The Haryanvi Tavu goes through a perceptional transformation when he comes to know that his daughters thrashed mercilessly two boys in the village for teasing them. That one incident rewrites the destiny of the two girls. Aamir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal makes us see the character and not the star in him. He is truly a perfectionist and it’s difficult to find words to mention his nose in detailing the character on screen through his acting.
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Dangal speaks volumes about the power of hard work, discipline, focus and practice to achieve what one desire in life. It is a beautiful inspirational story that portrays how people react to change and why it is important to stay determined on the road towards our goal even if it upsets and challenges the so-called status quo, traditions and rituals of our family and society. It also highlights the country’s not so surprising apathy towards sports and women. It is quite disheartening to find how our country and its governing bodies do so little for the betterment of sports and the players  who represent our country at various sports events across the globe. We are repeatedly reminded about the apathy through films like Iqbal, Chak De, Mary Kom, M. S. Dhoni, Sultan and its likes.

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The youngsters in the movie are commendable be it Zaira Wasim as young Geeta, Suhani Bhatnagar as young Babita, Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta Phogat and Sanya Malhotra as Babita Kumari. Zaira and Suhani rules the first half of the movie by their awesome performances as the young Phogat sisters who curse the day when they thrashed the boys in the village that led them to the wrestling bout and rigorous training session conducted by their disciplinarian father. They both keep the first half humourous by their reluctance and half-heartedness to become what they don’t want to be. There are moments when we empathize with them for not having the choice of keeping long tresses, wear a bindi, dance in wedding celebrations and relish the street foods of their choice.

Fatima Sana Shaikh has come a long way from a child actor who won millions of heart as Bharti daughter of Kamal Hassan in Chachi 420 in 1997 to Dangal’s Gold Medalist Geeta Phogat. We have also seen her in ‘One 2 Ka 4’, ‘Bittu Boss’, ‘Akaash Vani’, and as Suman in the TV series ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo’. She is so convincing in her wrestling bout that it becomes hard to believe that she is not a wrestler and just an actor. She has been chiseled out so well for the role, kudos to all who prepared her for this role and hats off to her commitment to do justice to the character on screen.

Sanya Malhotra as Babita is a promising actress. She stands out in her role. Her role as an understanding daughter and a lovable sister has been executed very well. Girish Kulkarni as Pramod Kadam the national coach who is at loggerheads with Mahavir plays his part nicely. Ritwik Sahore had made many sixes in his movie Ferrari Ki Saaari onscreen and now in Dangal as young Omkar the nephew of Mahavir Singh he completly bolds you by his superb acting. He is cute, smart and funny as the cousin of the Phogat sisters. The camaraderie of the brother and sisters are very refreshing and a pleasure to watch.  

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Sakshi Tanwar as Daya Shobha Kaur needs special mention because of the way the home maker has been portrayed. She speaks in her silence. She is considerate but accepts change with certain riders. She understands the trauma of her husband and supports his desire to achieve what he wants to achieve through his daughters. She also respects and appreciate her daughters’ rights. She is a wife, mother and also a silent partisan in the whole process of transforming two girls into icons of national pride.

Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal will definitely be remembered as another well-made movie in the category of sport biopics and will also be noted for its subtle but impressive way of storytelling without much melodrama. Music and the lyrics of Dangal is definitely the cherry on the cake. Pritam is on high with his string of success for almost all the songs he has composed in recent past. He stays true to the theme of the film. Songs like Haanikarak Bapu, Dhakad, Gilehiriyaan are too good and lingers in your mind. Pritam this time has brought the year to an end with some awesome music raising the bar of audience’s expectations higher for him.

In short, Dangal is a must watch. Go with your family to celebrate Christmas and the onset of the New Year watching the rise of women power in the Dangal of a patriarchal society. 

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4.5 /5

Cast: Aamir Khan (Mahavir Singh Phogat), Sakshi Tanwar (Daya Shobha Kaur), Fatima Sana Shaikh (Geeta Phogat), Zaira Wasim ( Young Geeta), Sanya Malhotra (Babita Kumari), Suhani Bhatnagar (Young Babita), Rohit Shankarwar, Vivan Bhatena (Guest Appearance), Aparshakhti Khurrana (Grown up nephew of Mahavir Singh (Phogat), Girish Kulkarni (National Coach Pramod Kadam), Ritwik Sahore (Young Omkar Nephew of Mahavir Singh Phogat)

Genre: Sports Drama

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Producers: Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Siddharth Roy Kapur

Written by: Nitesh Tiwari, Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain, Nikhil Mehharotra

Story idea: Divya Rao

Based on: Mahavir Singh Phogat

Music by: Pritam

Cinematography: Setu Sriram

Edited by: Ballu Saluja

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures, Aamir Khan Productions, UTV Motion Pictures

Distributors: Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures

Release Date: 23rd December, 2016

Duration: 161 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Friday, December 9, 2016

Befikre (Movie Review)

Aditya Chopra’s Befikre is Libido Driven!
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If you can strip anywhere, for instance, on the streets, on a library table, run around in a hotel lobby with the bed sheet wrapped around you or even at times in your designer hot and sexy undies, show your buttocks and jump into bed at the drop of a hat then you are indeed ‘Befikre’. According to Aditya Chopra, please do not forget to touch the feet of your girlfriend’s parents while you do all these and say ‘pairi pauna Mummyji and Papaji’ after all remember that you are a decent guy, and we have been given a U/A certificate by the generous censor board (don’t know what happened to the so called moral watchdogs this time) Isn’t it? Does Aditya Chopra’s Befikre portray a modern love story? I doubt.

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Vaani Kapoor has graduated from Shudd Desi Romance to Befikre and Ranveer Kapoor has successfully tried to be a model of the brand ‘Playboy’. From Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’s famous “Pallat’ to Befikre’s “I was just checking out his ass” dialogues Aditya Chopra’s growth as a filmmaker is commendable (Pun intended), isn’t it?  Befikre set in Paris is the story of two carefree birds – Shyra Gill, a Punjabi Indian who finds pride in saying that she is a French and Dilli Ka Ladka Dharam who lands up in Paris to be a stand-up comedian in his friend’s Delhi Belly Bar Comedy Nights Show. What next is a marathon of kissing, undressing, double dates, break-up and then redefining the relationship as friendship and then again falling out of grace of even being a friend, ending up very close to getting wedded to people who are opposite to each other and then  finally realizing that ‘Lust is love’ err.. I mean ‘Love is lust’ err.. ‘Lust and love are one’..err.. Whatever… God (Aditya) Knows!

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In short, Befikre ends up as a ‘I dare You’ contest between the lead pairs where they end up doing all nasty and obscene things in the name of romance. Befikre also is a gentle reminder to all those wayward guys to eat ‘Punjabi Desi Alloo Paratta’ to come back to your roots instead of having “Peanut Butter Sandwich’. The film has a nonsensical ending, an absurd justification to prove it’s a Rom-com!

Avoid Befikre at this trying times of demonetization when every single penny is dear and it counts. Having said this, what Yash Chopra did with Switzerland in his movies, Aditya does it well with Paris in Befikre. The songs and lyrics are beautiful especially songs like - Labon Ka Karoabaar, Yeh dil Befikre, and Nashe Se Chadd Gayi are really good and hummable. But then you can watch these videos online at the comfort of your home.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 1 /5

Cast: Ranveer Singh (Dharam), Vanni Kapoor (Shyra Gill)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Director: Aditya Chopra

Producer: Aditya Chopra

Story by: Aditya Chopra, Sharat Katariya (Dialogues)

Screenplay: Aditya Chopra

Music by: Vishal-Shekhar (Songs), Mikey McCleary (Background Score)

Cinematography: Kaname Onoyama

Edited by: Namrata Rao

Production Company: Yash Raj Films

Distributor: Yash Raj Films

Release Date: 9th December, 2016

Duration: 130 Minutes

Language: Hindi

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Maaveeran Kittu : Movie Review (Tamil)

Maaveeran Kittu: The Story of a Rebel!
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Suseenthiran’s Maaveeran Kittu is the story of the ‘Others’ in the society. He begins the story in 1980’s backdrop and slowly unveils the simmering conflict between the upper caste and the less privileged in a small village called Pudhur. The lower caste has Chinnarasu (Pratheepan) as their defender and leader to advocate their rights. The upper caste lobby is led by a shrewd and cunning Panchayat President Govindan and an equally brutal Sub Inspector Selvaraj (Harish Uthaman) who blocks every path of the under privileged that leads to self-reliance, progress and development.

Chinnarasu sees a heir to his movement in Kittu, a Dalit topper.  For Kittu, Chinnarasu is his mentor, guru and benefactor and therefore, he happily accepts the suggestion of Chinnarasu to pursue civil service so that he can become a collector. The new star in the village becomes a talking point among the upper caste and they hatch plots to thwart Kittu’s dream to be a collector. Vishnu Vishal as Kittu plays the role well. He is able to bring forth the feeling, complexity and the desire to excel as a Dalit very well. Pratheepan as Chinnarasu is a firebrand on screen. At times it gets confusing to figure out who is the actual hero – Kittu or Chinnarasu? Probably both!

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Gomathi (Sri Divya) as the love interest of Kittu is good but could have got some more key scenes to propel the story forward which doesn’t happen. Therefore, she is contained to the limited space of romancing, stay in awe of the hero and nothing else.

Suseenthiran’s well-intentioned movie is a joy to watch because ‘Maaveeran Kittu’ raises many pertinent questions that is still relevant and attracts our attention to ponder on. There are issues of casteism, inter-caste marriage, honor killing, atrocities against the under privileged and human right violations. The plot is simple and the story telling is subtle but straight forward. Music by D Imam is good. The lyrics by Yughabharathi are good and the songs are hummable and pleasant. In the process of adding more emotion and to make the end intense an untimely song at the end dampens the climax to some extent which could have been well avoided because even without that the film could have made an impact.

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The drawback of the movie is that there too many characters who are introduced but are not well etched out to stay in the minds of the viewers. The movie could have also worked upon its editing part that would have made the story telling more intense and the conflict and the plight of the hapless more moving. The movie is more about Chinnarasu and his vision and Kittu is merely a part of a bigger gamble, therefore, the tile could have been dedicated to Chinnarasu. Throughout the movie, I was trying to find reasons to justify the tile but failed to do so. Maybe, the climax according to the filmmaker has ample reasons to justify the title. The movie had the potential to be much better and a crowd puller had it been executed brilliantly.

Nevertheless, such socially relevant movies always find a way to reach the viewer’s hearts and minds easily and so does ‘Maveeran Kittu’ too. It is definitely a onetime watch.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5

Cast: Vishnu Vishal (Kitttu), R Pratheepan (Chinnarasu), Sri Divya (Gomthi), Soori (Thangarasu), Kasi Vswanathan, Harish Uthaman (Selvaraj), Kayal Pereira

Genre: Social Drama

Director: Suseenthiran

Producers: icewear Chandrasamy, D.N. Thai Saravanan, Rajeevan

Story by: Suseethiran

Screenplay: Suseethiran

Dialogues: Yugabharathi

Music by: D Imman

Cinematography: Soorya A. R.

Edited by: Kasi Viswanathan

Production Company: Asian Cine Combines

Distributor: Nallu Samy Pictures

Release Date: 2nd December, 2016

Duration: 125 Minutes

Language: Tamil 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Kahaani 2 : Movie Review

Kahaani 2: A Thriller With A Predictable End!
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Sujoy Gosh ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’ deals with a very sensitive and painful story of Indian households where no one musters courage to share the trauma of silent victims of abuse. Vidya Balan as Vidya Sinha and Durga Rani plays this impeccable character with ease and is bang on in the art of acting and delivering what is expected from her by the audience. Vidya Sinha and her crippled daughter lives in Chandan Nagar, West Bengal which is just as big as a football ground (as told by a cop in the film). One fine day she wakes up late and is seen trying to call up her maid who hasn’t turned up to take care of Minnie and she has to leave to her office reluctantly leaving behind Minnie with the door of her home ajar. Assured by her daughter that she can take care of herself and relying on her neighbor who is a septuagenarian that he will keep a guard on Minnie, Vidya Sinha on her return to home finds her daughter missing. To make it more mysterious she is told by her maid that it was Vidya who called her up not to come. An already worried and tensed Vidya is shocked to hear her old neighbor also tell her that he stopped keeping a watch on Minnie because Vidhya called him up and told him that the maid has reached her home to take care of Minnie.  

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Sujoy Gosh is partly successful in narrating a thriller with the audience sitting at the edge of their seats till the first half but fails unfortunately in the second half to do so because the film loses its steam and becomes too predictable. I wonder sometime that why the filmmakers are in a hurry to wrap up their story and in the process ruin a fine script and the possibility of making an out of the box film. Sujoy too falls in this trap and makes Kahaani 2’s ending illogical, predictable and dumb.
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Arjun Rampal as a cop  who is on a trail to solve a jig saw puzzle between Vidya Sinha and Durga Rani plays the role of Inspector Inderjit Singh well but sadly we find out that his character is not fleshed out properly. It’s good to see Jugal Hansraj the once chocolaty boy of Bollywood playing the role of a man in question.

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Vidya Balan who has repeatedly proved that she can carry a movie on her shoulders through films like Parineeta, Dirty Pictures and Kahaani lately seems to fail to do so probably because of her choice of films and being not so careful about the script she is being offered. Well, Sujoy Ghosh Kahaani 2 is a onetime watch because it does open our eyes and brings back our attention to certain sensitive familial issues which is generally carpeted and the victims left to suffer for the rest of their life. Remember, Kahaani 2 is not a sequel rather it is entirely a new story trying to piggyback heavily on Sujoy’s successful film Kahaani (2012).

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3/5

Cast: Vidya Balan (Vidya Sinha/Durga Rani), Arjun Rampal (Inspector Inderjit Singh), Naisha (Minnie), Jugal Hansraj, Tota Roy Choudhury, Kharaj Mukherjee, Kaushik Sen, Manini Chadha

Genre: Thriller

Director: Sujoy Ghosh

Producer: Sujoy Ghosh, Jayaantilal Gada

Written by: Sujoy Ghosh, Ritesh Shah (Dialogues)

Story by: Sujoy Ghosh, Suresh Nair

Music by: Clinton Cerejo

Cinematography: Tapan Basu

Production: Boundscript Motion Pictures, Pen India Limited

Distributor: Reliance Entertainment

Release Date: 2nd December, 2016

Duration: 119 Minutes

Language: Hindi