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General News Film Reviews
Munna Michael -  Movie Review

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CAST: Tiger Shroff, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nidhhi Agerwal, Ronit Roy
DIRECTION: Sabbir Khan
GENRE: Action
DURATION: 2 hours 20 minutes

MUNNA MICHAEL STORY : Munna (Tiger) is an orphan brought up by an ageing chorus dancer Michael (Ronit) in a Mumbai chawl. The boy grows up idolising Michael Jackson. To realise his dream of grooving like the King of Pop, he even agrees to tutor a hoodlum, Mahindar Fauji(Nawazuddin). Their bromance turns ugly when both end up falling in love with Deepika aka Dolly (Nidhhi).

MUNNA MICHAEL REVIEW : With Tiger around, filmmakers normally do not bother finding a script. Instead they just coast along joining the dots of a routine story with neatly-choreographed songs and fights at regular intervals. You can almost record screen proceedings with your stopwatch because after every 15 minutes, there is a--song, fight, song, fight and some more blah.

Tiger has in the past made films like Heropanti, Baaghi work at the box-office with just his agility and sincerity. So director Sabbir Khan, whose third outing this is with the star-cub, continues providing formula for the intellectually challenged. But Tiger fans will have a field day with his breakdancing.

In what seems like an encore of his previous work, Tiger dances like a dream and breaks bones with the grace of a ballerina. You can only tell that this is a different film only because he mouths a different dialogue here. It goes, "Munna jhagda nahi karta, munna sirf pithta hai."

How cleverly original that is! But, grant it to this star-son. He continuously pulls out weapons from his arsenal--back-flip, midair Van Damme-split and kick, glide, moonwalk or a just bare-body shot—forcing his audience into submission, even though there’s no semblance of anything coherent showing on screen.

When the fidgeting reaches a frustrating point, you’re introduced to the land-grabbing, gun-toting goon, Mahindar, who hires Tiger to teach him some mean moves on the floor. Furthermore, this Don with a Rajasthani dialect explains that the reason he needs to correct his two left-feet condition is because he’s madly-in-love with Dolly, a dream-dancer from Meerut.

Debutant Nidhhi, who is the bone of contention here, is overconfident and underwhelming by turn. She wears a neat shape on her but then again, it is Tiger’s chiseled frame that draws more whistles than the newbie’s.

Nawaz continues to be a revelation in each film. Here he adds a new dimension to his terribly mean, horribly funny routine, making you chuckle.

Well, if you’re in the mood to get rid of the monsoon blues with the foot-tapping ding dang, ding dang ditty, you should get introduced to Munna Michael; he’s not making breaking any new ground, but his moves are certainly infectious.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Lipstick Under My Burkha - Review

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Director: Alankrita Srivastava

Cast: Ratna Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Aahana Kumra, Plabita Borthakur, Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey

Just moments before intermission, one of the principal characters in Lipstick Under My Burkha, a young woman in Bhopal desperate to flee the arranged marriage and banal life awaiting her, crisply sums up the root cause of their ongoing disappointments to a friend who’s equally miserable in her life: “Our problem is that we dare to dream.”

Nursing dreams is a crime that all four women at the centre of this film are guilty of. Dreams of leading the life they want to, of taking ownership of their bodies, of breaking free from the shackles of their controlling families and from a sexist, prejudiced society that insists they must toe the line. How ironic that even the Censors refused to certify the film, objecting that “the story is lady-oriented, their fantasy about life”.

Co-written and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, Lipstick Under My Burkha casts an honest, unsparing look at what it means to be a woman in small-town India. This is a city on the cusp of modernisation, where shiny new malls jostle for space with centuries-old apartment blocks, but where mindsets have remained as narrow as the bylanes.

Shirin, a Muslim woman (Konkona Sen Sharma), has been discreetly working as a door-to-door saleswoman, but hides this fact from her conservative, Saudi-returned husband. As far as he’s concerned, her only job is to raise their three children, and to satisfy his frequent and frankly selfish sexual needs.

Leela, a feisty young Hindu woman (Aahana Kumra), works at a local beauty parlour although she has a business plan with her Muslim lover whom she frequently enjoys sex with, and with whom she’s plotting her escape from the arranged marriage her widowed mother is forcing her into.

For Rehana (Plabita Borthakur), who goes to great lengths to hide her Miley Cyrus hangover and pop star ambitions from her strict Muslim parents, the burkha is many-layered. It’s the armor that protects her when she shoplifts at malls. And at college, she stuffs it into her backpack so she can fit in with the other students, agitating in their distressed denims for the right to wear jeans on campus.

Then there’s 55-year-old widow Usha Parmar (Ratna Pathak Shah), the respected ‘Buaji’ who runs the family business, but who covertly reads Hindi erotic fiction at night. When she falls for a strapping swimming instructor, her repressed desires find an outlet in steamy phone sex. As Buaji reads out the fantasies of Rosy, the protagonist of her pulpy romance novels, the character becomes a symbol for everything that the four women long for.

This is an engaging story, and the makers narrate it with gentleness, pathos, sexual frankness, and a king sized helping of humour. The four women are loosely connected; they’re neighbours in a dilapidated housing complex, and they also share an unspoken sisterhood of sorts. These are women fighting to express themselves, yet they're virtually invisible to those around them.

Shrivastava navigates sensitive areas like female desire, the sexuality of older women, and religious conservatism, but she does so without titillation or cheap sensationalism. It helps that she’s got a first-rate cast. Newer actors like Plabita Borthakur and particularly Aahana Kumra earn their place alongside seasoned performers like Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkona Sen Sharma, who are in excellent form both in the film’s dramatic and laugh-out-loud scenes.

On the flip side, the male characters are almost all dominating and unsympathetic, thereby perpetuating the popular feminist stereotype of men. The film’s ending too comes off as contrived and clunky, one of the only bits that doesn’t ring true. But these are minor hiccups in a bold, honest film that hits the right notes. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five for Lipstick Under My Burkha. It’s accessible and entertaining; that rare film about empowerment that delivers plenty laughs. Make sure not to miss it.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Indu Sarkar - Movie review

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Cast: Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Anupam Kher, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Supriya Vinod
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar

Indu Sarkar begins with disclaimers — a whole array of disclaimers. It then launches into its opening sequence: the police have come to Mubipura village. They take all the male residents into custody, then announce: "Nasbandi ka saath do!" The men try to hide behind locked doors, but the police beak them down. Those who protest are lathi-charged. "Meri nasbandi kyun kara rahe ho?" a 70-year-old asks. So does a 13-year-old.

We then see a shot of Connaught Place. A banner flutters here, bearing the legend: "Avoid loose talk and rumours. Do your duty."

Enter Kirti Kulhari, an orphan who wants to become a writer and poet. Her teachers attempt to dissuade her —
tell her that she must marry, handle the home, produce children. That's what Indu grows up with. She also has a speech disorder — a stammer — that further wrecks her confidence.

Indu wants to marry and 'settle down', but she is rejected by several prospective grooms.

We also see Naveen Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who is an aide to a minister called Omnath (Satyajit Sharma). Omnath himself serves under a prime minister who looks exactly like Indira Gandhi, but who (post-Congress workers' protests) is merely referred to as Mummyji, by her son (Neil Nitin Mukesh, channelling Sanjay Gandhi) who also is only referred to as 'Chief'.

Indu begins to visit a speech therapist in a bid to get rid of her stammer. She also meets Naveen and they 'click'. Post-marriage, Indu becomes Indu Sarkar.

Crisis enters their married life when Naveen chalks out a plan to demolish a basti — even the homes of those residents who voted for the government — under the orders of Omnath and Chief. A word here about Neil Nitin Mukesh who is a sheer delight to watch on screen. From his mannerisms to his acting and dialogue delivery — he is pitch perfect.

While the basti is being demolished, Indu happens to be passing by. She sees the police opening fire on the residents and killing many of them. She comes across two lost children and brings them home — a development that irks Naveen. He asks Indu to get rid of them; when she refuses, marital strife ensues.

In her attempts to trace the children's parents, Indu meets several activists who're engaged in opposing the totalitarian government and its policies. Indu also meets Mekhla, an activist ho has lost her son to polie aids during the national Emergency. "Ek goli ne mere 6 foot ke ladke ko 6 inh ki tasveer bana di," she tells Indu, in hat is one among the many instances of crowd-pleasing dialogue in this film.

Meanwhile, Indu discovers Naveen's role in the demolition of the basti, and leaves the home, later filing for divorce. She also comes across an activist who runs a group called Himmat India Sangathan — Nanaji (Anupam Kher) — who helps her discover her political conscience and exhorts her to help lead the country to freedom from its tyrannical government.

With so much of the focus on Indu, it's a pity that Kirti Kulhari isn't at her best in this role. She seems stiff and mechanical and isn't able to bring the effortlessness to the role that her character requires.

The detailing of the film, however, is another plus point. There are lots of references to the 1970s: Songs from Bobby and Aradhana, SD Burman LPs, women sporting the 'Sadhana cut', the Commonwealth Parliamentary conference. The art direction and set design is too competent.

The placement of songs — with the choice of lyrics — also seems to be very apt at certain points in the film. Although there are a few sequences where one wishes the editing could have been better.

We can't get into too many details of the story without giving away essential plot points. Suffice it to say that Indu ends up in a courtroom, having to make an impassioned stand for the right to freedom of speech and expression. Having already done this before in Pink, Kirti Kulhari aces this bit.

One expects a film like Indu Sarkar to have a strong impact. And it builds up like that — before fizzling out. On seeing it, one understands what director Madhur Bhandarkar meant when he said it's '70 percent fiction and 30 percent truth'. The fuss made around the film in the run-up to its release also becomes a little difficult to comprehend — it certainly doesn't show anything we didn't already know about.

The title of the film worked in its favour, as one was led to believe that the film was about Indira Gandhi's government, whereas it's really about Kirti Kulhari's character.

Bhandarkar overdoes the symbolism in some places — which perhaps is the director's trademark. The film, very vaguely, seems to be made through a right-wing lens. Moreover, if he wanted to make a fictional story with a female protagonist, then he should have created a more powerful setting for her. The intensity of Indu gets lost amid all the attention given to the Emergency.

In summation, great performances by Tota Roy Chowdhury and Neil Nitin Mukesh, but certainly not Kirti Kulhari's best act yet.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Cast : Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh, Mohit Marwah

Director :Tigmanshu Dhulia

Recently, we have witnessed a host of similar-themed stories in Hindi cinema. Whether it was Dangal/Sultan or MOM/Maatr or Phullu/Padman, stories with the same premise have coincidentally released in the same year, only a few months apart.

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Another such common subject that is filmmakers' new favourite is that of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (INA). The Forgotten Army is finally being remembered and its struggles documented. Kabir Khan and Hansal Mehta are both currently working on web series based on Bose and the INA.

But Tigmanshu Dhulia, with his latest offering Raag Desh, has gained the advantage of releasing first. This is why this film must be credited for bringing to the fore, a significant part of India's freedom struggle that had been sidelined for decades, unless the successors manage to do the same in a more engaging way. (Case in point, Dangal and Sultan.)

This writer must say that Dhulia manages to do justice to this sensitive yet significant part of history. He presents the story of three INA soldiers — Shah Nawaz Khan (played by a convincing Kunal Kapoor), Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (a charged Amit Sadh) and Prem Sahgal (Mohit Marwah, charming) — and their Red Fort trials, that made for a rare display of retreat by the British Raj.

Unlike its posters suggest, Raag Desh is not a war film. Though the film boats of well directed scenes from the war, the narrative extends to courtroom drama as well as historical fiction. Also, the three soldiers are the focal point of the film but the narrative has been carefully designed so as to feature an ensemble cast of supporting actors. This shows the filmmaker's attempt to highlight that India's independence was a product of the collective efforts of a wide range of stakeholders.

Besides the three chief actors, Kenny Desai proves his mettle as a nuanced actor. After tickling our funny bone as Humpty's friendly father in Shashank Khaitan's 2014 romantic comedy Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Desai shines in the grave role of Bhulabhai Desi, the legal representative of the three INA soldiers. All his scenes, particularly the concluding monologue, are impressive.

His namesake, Assamese actor Kenny Basumatary, aces the role of Bose. He adds the perfect amount of vigour, humour, compassion and vulnerability to the role though Bose's screen time is only about one-tenth of the entire film.

Tamil and Malayalam actor Mrudula Murali comes across a revelation in her debut Hindi film. Despite the language barrier, she manages to evoke the required feelings in the viewers, in the warm romantic scenes with Marwah's character. Also, it is a pleasure to watch a woman not just meant as eye candy, but actually having a meaty part to play in the proceedings, in a film dominated by men.

Kanwaljit Singh and Zakir Hussain deserve special mentions too. Hussain, having watched him in multiple films before, would have seemed caricaturish as a Bengali soldier in the INA. But his fluent and un-forced accent are spot on.

Dhulia holds the film, with myriad characters and historical events, together. His most remarkable achievement, besides the choice of subject, is maintaining the consistency of pace. There is not even one dull moment in the film. The background music, particularly the evergreen soul-stirring 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja' help the narrative significantly.

The cinematography, costumes and production design are commendable as well, given the attention to detail. Historic moments such as Bose shouting, 'Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe aazadi dunga' have been crystallised with the aid of well chosen props and camera angles.

However, the deliberate focus on a jury member's mouth when he says 'murder' during the Red Fort Trials just seems bizarre and unnecessary. Similarly, the editing might seem out of place since there is no clear transition between flashback and current time. Also, the length of scenes does not remain consistent which makes it difficult for the viewers to keep pace with the story.

A special mention must be made of the scene where Mahatma Gandhi's letter arrives during Bose's funeral. It is an intelligently written scene that hints at the mysterious disappearance of Bose. There are many similar undercurrents such as the tension between Jawaharlal Nehru and Bose as well as the seed of religious fundamentalism in India.

Overall, Raag Desh is not a superlative film, particularly because of its treatment, editing and lack of a novel story. But what it excels at is brushing the dust off a forgotten chapter of the history textbooks in a way that we can revisit it, with equal amounts of pride and gratitude.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Mubarakan - Movie Review

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Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Ileana D'Cruz, Athiya Shetty, Neha Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah
Director: Anees Bazme
Rating: Two stars

Twin trouble capers come preloaded with a certain degree of comic verve. So does Mubarakan, directed by Anees Bazmee of No Entry and Singh is Kinng fame. But in trying to squeeze every ounce of hilarity out of its scrappy screenplay, the film goes overboard with its excessive cheeriness and swerves into the realms of inanity. In the bargain, it loses its way completely after delivering a fairly breezy first half.

Mubarakan is generally puerile, occasionally fun, and always unabashedly over the top. It is just the sort of mix of song, dance, comic gags and unbridled lunacy that Bollywood's mass audience so loves. So, there is superhit written all over the film, but this puffy concoction simply isn't for those with a taste for more subtle and easy-flowing humour. Mubarakan tries too hard to tickle our funny bones and the effort shows.

Its songs and comic gags are of the routine variety. It seeks to propel itself on the back of the seductive power of familiarity, manages to do a tolerable job pre-interval but, taken as a whole, Mubarakan is neatly and niftily packaged crap that never stops reeking of stupidity. If there is anything positive in this attempted laugh riot, it is its refusal to take itself seriously - an attribute that stands the film in good stead when it begins to stretch beyond the plausible and the passable.

Mubarakan is a comedy that revolves around two weddings and a whole lot of confusion. Before the lovebirds can have their nuptials solemnized in a gurudwara, they have to fly though two-and-a-half hours of turmoil caused by familial pressures and mistaken amorous liaisons.

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The twins separated at birth are played by Arjun Kapoor. One, Charan, grows up as a turbaned Sardar in the home of Baldev (Pavan Malhotra) in Punjab. The other, Karan, is raised by Baldev's elder sister Jeeto (Ratna Pathak Shah), in London. In the film's opening sequence, the two boys lose their parents in a road mishap. Their spinster uncle Kartar (Anil Kapoor), who has turned a rustic part of the UK into a mini Punjab, divides the orphans between his two elder siblings and then proceeds to fuel the chaos that ensues when the duo is ready for dalliances.

The clumsy Charan, five minutes Karan's junior, loves Nafisa Qureishi (Neha Sharma) but lacks the guts to let his conservative family know his feelings for the girl. As a consequence, his father and his London-based aunt decide that he is a suitable boy for Binkle (Athiya Shetty), daughter of a wealthy Punjabi (Rahul Dev).

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Charan turns to uncle Kartar for help in order to scuttle the impending wedding. At the uncle's behest, he passes himself off as a drug addict. Binkle's father and her brother Manpreet (Karan Kundrra) throw a fit and humiliate Charan's adoptive father Baldev. The latter and Jeeto end up fighting so violently over the imbroglio that they stop talking to each other. The slighted Baldev asserts that he will find a bride for Charan within a month. He leaves for Chandigarh without exchanging goodbyes.

In Punjab, Baldev chances upon Sweety Gill (Ileana D'Cruz) and plumps for her as Charan's future wife. The trouble is, unbeknownst to the world, Sweety is Karan's girlfriend. She has had the worst possible brush with Jeeto, calling her would-be mom-in-law names that the latter doesn't forget in a hurry. The next thing that the cocksure Karan knows is that he is now the chosen one for Binkle. He, too, seeks the intervention of Kartar in order to wriggle out of the hole he has dug for himself.

The rigmarole is enjoyable up to a point but once the idiocy quotient peaks, the overlong Mubarakan goes somewhat haywire. Yet, if it isn't as insufferable as other average Bollywood romantic comedies, a part of the credit goes to the actors. Anil Kapoor, who is as irrepressible as ever, lends some lustre to the proceedings with his impressive energy levels and funny one-liners.

Arjun Kapoor is far less consistent in his double role, but he does strike a few purple patches along the way, demonstrating a comic flair that cries out for a better film than this one. The script gives Athiya Shetty the rough end of the stick. Her character, as Kartar says at one point, is like a tennis ball being lobbed back and forth between Charan's side of the court and Karan's without being allowed any agency of her own. Mubarakan, however, gives Ileana D'Cruz far more space and she makes the most of the opportunity.

Neha Sharma, in a special appearance, is allowed little that could be described as special in a role that definitely deserved more attention. She plays a tough Muslim girl with a successful law career who does not fit into the orthodox Sikh brood's scheme of things and has to settle for a hurried, last-minute adjustment, which entails jumping into a new relationship with Binkle's brother. That's a copout of the worst kind. But to expect nuanced and mould-breaking social dynamics in a film like Mubarakan is to take it more seriously than its makers themselves do.

And that isn't a great idea: watch Mubarakan only if you dig comedies that do not demand that you dig deep for logic and meaning.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Gurgaon - movie review

Cast : Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna, Pankaj Tripathi, Shalini Vatsa

Director : Shanker Raman

As far as cautionary tales go, director Shanker Raman follows the rules closely in his gritty noir thriller Gurgaon. Undeniably, the modern town is a metaphor for several themes Raman and his writing team have explored here — family dynamics, gender politics, greed, violence, discrimination, urban alienation being a few.

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From the opening bars it is clear that this story cannot end well for anyone who is a part of (it) — there is certainly unlikely to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel that Kehri Singh and his family inhabit.

Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) is a successful real estate developer who must have been a sharp businessman at some point but now operates mostly in a haze of intoxication. His long-suffering wife (Shalini Vatsa) has stood steadfastly by him even as he has made some highly questionable choices. Their three children walk a tightrope too. This is a family that has never talked about what got them from a life of hard labour to this plush but cold mansion in Gurgaon.

Singh’s favoured child is his daughter Preet (Ragini Khanna), after whom he has named his business. Having completed her education abroad, Preet returns to India and is immediately thrust back into the simmering family set up. Older brother Nikki (Akshay Oberoi) seems indifferent to her return. His resentment towards his father’s beloved Preet is accentuated when Kehri dismisses Nikki’s idea of opening a gym on a plot the patriarch has earmarked for architect Preet’s dream project.

Frustrated and slighted, Nikki recklessly bets a huge sum of money on a cricket match. The astronomical losses lead to a devious extortion plan, which spirals horribly out of control. The pivot for most of the unfolding events is Nikki’s deep hatred of Preet. He doesn’t miss an opportunity to remind her of her adoptive status. Oberoi brings a frightening intensity to the part of the reckless, ruthless, entitled son with deep contempt for his sister and society. It takes some getting used to Nikki being simply black — with no redeeming qualities at all. Tripathi is brooding and constantly drunk. That even in the face of great adversity he’s unable to lift himself out of a quagmire is hard to fathom. Violence is the default option for these characters and the actors play them with quiet commitment.

The screenplay (writers Raman, Sourabh Ratnu, Yogi Singha and editor Shaan Mohammed) structure is a bit gimmicky and distracting, with sepia-tinged flashbacks revealing Kehri’s past and a dark secret, bit by bit. There’s also a random appearance of a politician/bureaucrat with his agenda, an over-the-top bookie and Nikki’s sidekicks, including an abhorrent hand-for-hire who turns out to be a loose cannon. Other sidebars include a kidnapped musician and Kehri’s brother Bhupi, played by Aamir Bashir, who is brought in to help the family out of the crisis (a bit like Liam Neeson from Taken, i.e. a one-man army).

The characters that really make an impact are Preet and mother Singh — two women who surprise you with their actions, and two actors (Khanna and Vatsa) who bring it home with their performances.

The background music by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor, and the moody lensing by Vivek Shah underline a sense of foreboding. You are left with no option but to feel the weight of Raman’s message and embrace the metaphor.

The climax is pulsating. I was gasping and willing for the characters to make different choices, to think, to be smarter. But Raman’s film is not about the comfortable. It’s very much about unearthing and facing the ugly truth, and that’s a rather bitter pill.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Jab Harry Met Sejal Insider - Movie Review

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Jab Harry Met Sejal, the much awaited love saga directed by Imtiaz Ali and starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma is finally releasing tomorrow (August 4). The excitement amongst fans has reached its zenith. The film promises to be an unconventional love story and that’s been one of the reasons why audience is looking forward to see SRK and Anushka share screen space for the third time.

The mini trials, the songs and the trailer, complemented with the unique way the film has been promoted across India, have all added to the frenzy for Jab Harry Met Sejal. While the film will hit screens tomorrow and even a press show is scheduled for Friday morning, reviews from film critics will only start coming in by early noon tomorrow.

However, someone from the industry has already seen the movie at the special Jab Harry Met Sejal screening held earlier this week and has exclusively shared the review with us.

As per the insider’s movie review, here are five things that will definitely appeal to you in the film.

Shah Rukh Khan
“Jab Harry Met Sejal is the official return of Shah Rukh Khan as the romantic guy we all are madly in love with. If that adoration for his had diminished, for whatever reasons, be sure to fall heads over heels in love with him all over again! His eyes do the talking and not giving in to his charm will be very very difficult for you. Non-SRKians will convert too.”

The story
“At its heart, Jab Harry Met Sejal is a love story and its relatability will nudge at your emotions and make the journey of Harry and Sejal a fun-filled, fulfilling ride. Their story has elements that will make you laugh, cry, fall in love and question your feelings and shake some beliefs about how relationships work.”

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Throwback to
“I hate when film tries to recreate a few scenes from another hit film starring one or two of the cast members. Two scenes in Jab Harry Met Sejal will remind you of SRK-Kajol’s DDLJ. I don’t know if that was intentional and made to act as a throwback. Even if it was, it is done so beautifully and subtly that you won’t mind it.”

The surprise
There’s a guide, there’s an engaged girl, there’s a lost ring and a rollercoaster journey to find it – there is a lot that we know about the story of Jab Harry Met Sejal. You might have even predicted what course the film will take and how it will end. But there us a twist, that will take you by surprise and also leave a lump in your throat.”

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Take me back moments
“Imtiaz Ali has a knack for capturing landscapes in the most scenic way possible and he does the same with Jab Harry Met Sejal. The film is shot in various parts of Europe and Punjab, and the filmmaker brings out the unique essence of each of these places in his frames. You would come back wanderlusting after watching the film, perhaps with a few additions on your travel wish list.”

The other side
“There are also some moments that might exasperate you. Anushka is lovely and does a decent job at playing the Gujarati girl, however, in some parts, she is seen trying too hard to get the lines and her twang right. This is definitely not an album you’d expect out of an Imtiaz Ali film. Harry, Sejal’s tale could have done without a few songs.”

Parting Note: “All said and done, there’s a lot to love in Jab Harry Met Sejal and very little to hate! I would recommend it to all movie buffs and give it 4 stars.”

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Atomic Blonde - Movie review

“Charlize Theron is a female John Wick” or “Charlize Theron is the female James Bond” is what was being thrown around by viewers upon watching the Cold War spy thriller. Rightfully so. Atomic Blonde is directed by none other than John Wick’s co-director David Leitch.

The movie may be a little bit over the top and the plot a tad complicated but if you’ve been longing for a female led espionage flick, then you’re going to want to see Atomic Blonde on the big screen.

The movie is written by Kurt Johnstad and based on Antony Johnston’s graphic novel, The Coldest City.

The plot

Charlize Theron is a Cold Warrior. On the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism in 1989, Mi6 agent Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is dispatched to Berlin. She dips in and out of East and West Germany, recovering a valuable asset and to eliminate a double agent.

We first encounter Lorraine, in a bathtub full of ice, emerging with her face and body badly bruised. The audience has just one question what exactly happened?

Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman) of the CIA and Eric Gray (Toby Jones) have the exact same question for rogue agent Lorraine.

Once the plot flashes back ten days to the murder of an American spy, it moves on to some double-dealing, involving David Perceval (James McEvoy) and the hunt for a top-secret list. This is some John LeCarre Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy style double-dealing.

The queen of action cinema

Theron is captivating in nearly each and every scene during the 115-minute film, just like she did as Furiosa in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road (she even had a cameo in The Fate of The Furious. In Atomic Blonde, she gets her due time with about half a dozen showdowns, which were reminiscent of The Raid movies.

When Theron gets going, she outclasses the likes of Bond and Bourne without breaking a sweat. There is a nearly 10-minute 'one take' stairwell scene that is the highlight of the movie.

The hard hitting action scenes offer a moment of release from the tension, which is something not seen in many other action movies. After a long-take fight choreography, there is a moment of pause, letting Lorraine and her enemies take a breather before the latter stumbles back to his feet, paler than ever.

Of thrillers and lighting schemes

If you’ve seen your fair share of thrillers, then you might be able to guess the film’s reveal within the first half hour. That isn’t to take away from the film though.

The dazzling choice of blue and pink neons - Nicolas Winding Refn-esque - lends to the nostalgia of an 80s period piece, dazzling throughout. Lorraine has been dressed up to the hilt, in certain scenes, but put Theron in anything and she’ll excel.

Should you watch it?

The plot may be flimsy and convoluted but the top-shelf action is what propels the movie to greater heights. Couple that with a top notch soundtrack that has a number of recognizable songs and you’ve got a winning combination.

Choosing style over substance is a decision one will never understand. Nonetheless, this movie is more for those wanting to see a mindless action thriller than those looking for an intelligent cold war espionage thriller.

Still, with its delightful action choreography and moody cinematography, Atomic Blonde is worth it on the big screen.

Rating: 3.5/5

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha - Movie Review

[Image: akshay-kumar-facebook_640x480_41502434170.jpg]

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Anupam Kher, Divyendu Sharma, Sudhir Pandey

Director: Shree Narayan Singh

Rating: 2 Stars (Out Of 5)

When what should at best have been a ten-minute public service film bloats into a two-and-a-half-hour, patience-testing, yawn-inducing Bollywood puff-job for a government scheme, it is bound to stink to high heaven. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha does. Editor-director Shree Narayan Singh presents a corny, cringe-worthy mix of entertainment and edification in the service of the much tom-tommed Swachh Bharat campaign. In the end, it is no more than a filmed pamphlet - patchy, pulpy, preachy and painfully protracted.

The partisanship on show here is unprecedented for a Mumbai mainstream flick. When it refers to a big toilet scam, it points out that all of it happened four years ago. It also slips in a laudatory reference to demonetisation too and completely exposes its hand. It is one thing for a political dispensation to equate the Prime Minister's optics-heavy swachhata abhiyan with Mahatma Gandhi's untouchabilty-negating, status quo-defying cleanliness experiments, quite another for a Bollywood film to follow suit. It only dilutes the integrity of an undeniably relevant message.

[Image: akshay-kumar-facebook_640x480_61502435249.jpg]

The film's flimsy approach and flaccid structure do not help matters one bit. By the time it lumbers its way to an entirely predictable and unconvincing climax, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is crying out to be flushed down the very drain it has popped up from. There is very little genuine cinema here. It's all overly melodramatic propaganda of the kind that is better left to the sarkari outreach machinery.

The performances are earnest, if not extraordinary, with Akshay Kumar, trying hard to look 36, leading the way. Bhumi Pednekar, in her second outing after 2015's sleeper hit Dum Laga Ke Haisha, fleshes out a refreshingly relatable college topper who becomes the principal catalyst for a mini-revolution in an immutable village.

Not that the urgency of the theme can be downplayed. After all, more than half the people who defecate in the open reside in this country. But surely there are ways more subtle and less fawning of getting that obvious point across. That's way beyond this film's ken.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is about a man compelled by his bride to think of building a pucca latrine in the village. In his conservative neck of the woods, he must move heaven and earth to achieve his goal. The film follows him as he negotiates a series of obstacles, most of them stemming from the obscurantist ways of the village.

The film is inspired by a true story, but little that it offers by way of insight rings true. Some of the dialogues are cringe-worthy, the drama gratingly shrill and the solutions utterly facile.

The intent of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha may be commendable. The execution is hugely hamfisted. When a Bollywood filmmaker assumes the role of a cheerleader for a government campaign on whose efficacy the jury is still out, you know you've been had.

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is as avoidable as what it rightly rails against - open defecation.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
Annabelle: Creation - Movie Review

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Two and half stars)

Star Cast: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson.

Director: David F. Sandberg

[Image: annabelle-creation-review-1.jpg]

What’s Good: Few good scares here and there, BGM during those scenes, performances by Bateman & Wilson.

What’s Bad: Lifeless script, many illogical sequences.

Loo Break: No! (Not because the film is excellent, because who knows you might miss a good scene which are very few)

Watch or Not?: Only if you like Conjuring series.

Annabelle: Creation starts when Mullins family consisting of Samuel and Esther Mullins lose their only daughter Annabelle in a car accident. Cut to a few years later few orphans from St. Eustace’s Girls’ Home arrive at Mullins house to stay as apparently they’ve no else place to stay. Samuel offers his place to these orphans and their caretaker Sister Charllote to stay. His wife, now, Esther is bed ridden and can’t walk because of some accident she faced.

The story builds up when girls start exploring the house facing some paranormal things happening. Enters our main hero – Annabelle the doll messing things up as she’s been doing in the entire Conjuring series. Running from a room to another, facing spooky things never imagined before and a twist about Annabelle is what the story comprises of.

[Image: annabelle-creation-review-2.jpg]

Script Analysis
The film follows the same template of horror movies which we’ve been tired of watching. A house, few people, a shocking surprise of the house being haunted, people running for their lives and creepy background music. People always think comedy genre is the one having the least logic, but actually, it’s horror that always comes without any logic. Why always people want to check out what’s happening in the jungle next to their deserted house at 3 am in the night? Why you still want to stay at a house which you know is haunted? Just to make the audience scare and we always fall into their trap. Horror movies should top the list of criticizing movies for logic.

When you’re into 30 minutes of a 1 hour 50 minutes horror movie and there is not a single chilling scene, you know the script is lazy and dragging. A couple of scenes, are good striking some scares of the audience but they’re not enough to keep them intrigued throughout the whole film. It’s funny how, among the audience, I heard giggling more than scary screams.

Star Performance
Talitha Bateman as Janice is the kid on which the whole movie relies. She has done a wonderful job as a polio survivor running for her life through the whole movie. Her spooky smile compliments her role giving her an edge over others.

Lilu Wilson as Linda is another winner of the film. Her expressions charm you away and she has some vital scenes to her credit in the film. Her “Who cares, run” moment is the highlight of the film. Rest of the girls perform fine marking their presence.

Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto as Mr. and Mrs. Mullins don’t have much to do in the film. They were just about okay. Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charllote compliments the girls well by shining in some scenes.

Direction, Music
Sandberg who has previously given us another snoozy-horror in Lights Out tries to bind this thin plot with few spooky scenes. The film is not unbearable, it’s just not something we haven’t seen already.

A horror movie is nothing without a blood-curdling BGM, Benjamin Wallfisch has composed the music for the film. It goes well with the horror scenes, the only issue being, they’re very few. Barring those scenes, rest of the film has very limited BGM leaving blank spaces between the scenes.

The Last Word
If you’re a sucker for horror movies and follow the Conjuring series from the first part, then this movie is for you. Do not expect anything extraordinary – watch the film, get scared and come back.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV


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