Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Poorna - Trailer Review

Sixteen years after directing his first film, Rahul Bose returns to the director’s chair with a true tale of courage and willpower. The trailer starts off by showing the life of Poorna Malavath, a 13-year old girl who comes from a very humble background and a regressive one at that.

The story takes a turn when she runs away from her house and joins a rock climbing club, where Rahul Bose is the coach.

She turns out to be a pro at mountaineering and her coach encourages her to conquer Mount Everest. How he faces several obstacles on the way and how he succeeds in helping Poorna become the youngest girl to climb the Mount Everest, forms the crux of the trailer and I think of the film as well.

It’s a perfect underdog story that, if executed well, will surely resonate with the audience. There is a dialogue in the trailer that goes, “We all know you have a weakness for underdogs.” That is true with general public around the world too. I mean who doesn’t like a perfect underdog story.

The trailer, however reminds of several other films in this genre, mainly last year’s Manoj Bajpayee starrer Budhia Singh- Born To Run, Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chak De! India etc.

As mentioned above, it all depends on the way Rahul Bose executes the film. Considering his debut was a brilliant Everybody Says I’m Fine, I don’t doubt it.

Written by Prashant Pandey and Shreya Dev Varma, the film features Aditi Inamdar as Poorna along with Rahul Bose, Heeba Shah, Dhritiman Chatterjee etc.

The music is by Tanuj Tiku while Subhransu Das is the DOP and Manan Mehta is the editor.

Poorna is due for release on 31st March.

Split - Movie Review

CAST: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley

DIRECTION: M. Night Shyamalan

DURATION: 1 hour 57 minutes

Multiple personality disorder, like amnesia, is one of those aberrant mental states that has been a curse to those who suffer, but a gift to screenwriters over the years. From Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” to Brian De Palma’s “Dressed to Kill,” filmmakers have long exploited how little we truly understand about the condition — though none has pushed it quite as far as M. Night Shyamalan does in “Split,” treating dissociative identity disorder not as the twist, but as the premise on which this wickedly compelling abduction thriller is founded: James McAvoy plays a lunatic kidnapper with at least 23 personalities to his name.

Rest assured, there are plenty of proper twists to follow, none more unexpected than the fact that Shyamalan himself has managed to get his groove back after a slew of increasingly atrocious misfires. To be fair, it’s hard to imagine any writer/director sustaining a career based almost entirely on surprising audiences. And though he lost us for a while there — water-intolerant aliens, anyone? — By trading on ingenuity rather than big-budget special effects, Shyamalan has created a tense, frequently outrageous companion piece to one of his earliest and best movies.

But Shyamalan isn’t the only one getting a makeover here. Presumably tired of playing handsome, uncomplicated leading men, McAvoy — a talented Scottish actor best known as the young Professor X in the “X-Men” prequels — has recently expanded his repertoire to include unsavory creeps in films such as “Trance” and “Filth.” Those roles may as well have been practice laps for the Olympic main event that is “Split,” in which his performance is splintered between a gay fashion designer, a renegade nine-year-old, an obsessive-compulsive control freak, and a crazy church lady, among others.

Shyamalan introduces these wildly different personae one at a time, revealing them through the eyes of the movie’s three main characters, a trio of teenage girls taken prisoner from a high school birthday party, who wake up — like the victims in a nightmarish new subgenre of sadism that includes films like “Saw” and “10 Cloverfield Lane” — in a bunker-like cell with only the dimmest clue of the fate that awaits them. Popular above ground, Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are the first to panic, reacting as most audiences probably would in their shoes, while brooding outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) seems unusually calm … at first, at least.

Trapped underground in an undetermined location (the actual spot is the film’s next-to-last twist), the girls spend several days trying to devise ways to escape. Each attempt will have moviegoers digging their fingernails deeper into their armrests, as McAvoy’s totally unpredictable character manages to gain the upper hand, while the girls try to make sense of the information before them. Meanwhile, to make things a bit easier on the audience, their captor slips out at regular intervals to visit his shrink, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley, the classic “Carrie” actress who also appeared in Shyamalan’s “The Happening”), a sympathetic ear who dispenses exposition by the wheelbarrow.

The more we learn, the scarier McAvoy’s character(s) starts to sound. At the same time, among the would-be victims, only Casey feels fleshed out, as Shyamalan gradually reveals the young lady’s troubled backstory via flashbacks to childhood hunting trips. Taylor-Joy, who recently starred in Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” has a knack for suggesting dark undercurrents to superficially lovely characters, to the extent that we start to wonder whether McAvoy has meet his match.

Shyamalan’s goal is to keep us guessing, and in that respect, “Split” is a resounding success — even if in others, it could have you rolling your eyes. Still, scaling down to a relatively modest budget and just a handful of locations has forced him to get creative with the script, while a handful of new hires — most notably “It Follows” DP Mike Gioulakis, whose crisp, steady-handed gaze plays against the gritty confusion of the genre — elevate the result in such a way that we’re more inclined to consider the characters’ psychology, even though Shyamalan appears to be making it up to suit his purposes.

Ultimately, “Split” belongs to McAvoy, who has ample scenery to chew, but doesn’t stop there — he practically swallows the camera with his tiger-like teeth. With his head shaved, the actor depends ever so slightly on costume changes (sly contributions from Paco Delgado, who worked on “The Danish Girl”), but otherwise conveys his transformations through body language, facial expression, and accent, as his various selves take “the light” — since, per Fletcher, only one can come out to play at a time. As in “Psycho,” there’s a tendency to over-explain, and while Shyamalan is basically making up rules for dissociative identity disorder as he goes along, the condition has afforded McAvoy the role of his career.

A welcome return to form from 'The Sixth Sense' director M. Night Shyamalan, whose unhinged new mind-bender is a worthy extension of his early work.

My Rating: 4/5

Lion - Movie Review

CAST: Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Abhishek Bharate, Rooney Mara, Priyanka Bose, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Deepti Naval

DIRECTION: Garth Davis

DURATION: 1 hour 58 minutes

Movies are all about telling stories. Sometimes those stories are fictional, and sometimes those stories are ripped right from the pages of real life. Often times, those real life stories wind up being the most compelling, at least when executed the right way. Lion is one of those movies.

Lion tells the real-life story of Saroo Brierley who was separated from his family in India at the age of 5, who then winds up being adopted by a family in Australia. Years later, he decides to go on a quest to find his long-lost mom and brother, but at great personal cost. On paper, it is a very simple premise but one that comes with a lot of very intense, much grounded and very real emotion that anyone should be able to relate to.

There is no question that something like Lion could just have easily been made into a semi-effective Lifetime movie with B-list actors and a second-rate director who is just cashing a pay check. Fortunately, this story got the treatment it deserved. In the best of circumstances (and Lion was clearly made under the best of circumstances), people who bring genuine passion to the project will make sure to tell a story like this in a way that makes the audience feel as though they are taking this journey themselves, or at least experience the emotion of that journey. It is truly remarkable that director Garth Davis hasn't actually made a feature length movie before, because a movie like this with such subtlety and expert craft would make you think he had been in the Oscar race many times before, much like when someone on the level of say a Gus Van Sant, makes a good movie. Sure, Garth Davis directed the first season of Top of the Lake, which was super solid, but movies are not TV and TV shows are not movies. The talent doesn't always translate.

As much as Garth Davis is owed for the success that is Lion, this is a personal story and thus, it relies very heavily on the people in it. To that point, the cast hits it out of the park from top to bottom. Even in the early parts of the movie, which take place entirely in India and largely centers on the talents of child actors, everything works. Sunny Pawar deserves a ton of recognition for playing the young version of Saroo, because he anchors the emotional ride you are going on for the rest of the movie. With that said, the performance turned in by Dev Patel as Saroo is award worthy and could be the best of his career, which has admittedly been varied, but definitely has some truly shining moments. Lion is easily going to put him right in the awards season conversation. Mark my words; the Oscars will not be so white this year, but not because there is social pressure, but because there are elements of this movie that deserve recognition.

The second and third acts of Lion rest heavily on Dev Patel's shoulders and he should be applauded for his efforts, but his supporting cast is equally as strong, with whatever screen time they are given. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman both crush it as his love interest and adopted mother, respectively. David Wenham also winds up being the adopted father that most guys who had a less than adequate father growing up wish they had. I could run down the entire IMDB cast list for this movie and just heap praise onto the entire ensemble, but just know that everyone is great, as is often the case with great movies. They oddly go hand-in-hand that way.

What is perhaps most important in a movie like Lion is that it did not get the typical "white guy" treatment that Hollywood is very famous for. This is a story about something that happened to an Indian person and it is told largely in that environment and told from that perspective. How easy it would have been in the hands of lesser talent to tell this story from the white mom's perspective or something like that. Or on the flipside, how easy it would have been to essentially play it in the much less classy "Look how diverse we are being! Aren't we so diverse?!" fashion. This movie does it tastefully, but as though it isn't a big deal. It is simply the way it needed to be and should be. That said, with all of the complaints that Hollywood loves to whitewash and doesn't promote diversity, it is equally important for audiences to support a movie like Lion so that Hollywood will continue to have a reason (beyond the fact that it is the right thing to do) to keep making these movies. Also, you should see Lion because it is a seriously fantastic and moving movie.

Coming from The Weinstein Company, Lion is a movie based on the book A Long Way Home, which was written by the real Saroo Brierley. Sometimes, it is better to see a movie after you read the book. Sometimes the opposite is true. I can't speak to that in the case of Lion, because I did not read the book. What I will say is that seeing this movie and not knowing what is going to happen is largely what made it work. Though, if you have read the book I still wholly encourage you to see the movie. I can't think of any good reason someone shouldn't see this movie. No, it doesn't have a lot of action or fast paced editing or anything like that. No fancy tricks, but it will make you feel something real. Depending on your level of emotional response, you should either bring a small cup or perhaps a bucket to catch your tears. Either way, go see this movie.

My Rating: 3/5

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rangoon - Movie Review

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Saif Ali Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Richard McCabe, Shriswara Dubey, Gajraj Rao, Saharsh Shukla, Kashmira Irani

Director - Vishal Bhardwaj

Duration: 2 hrs 47 mins

If “YOU” thought that Saif’s most spectacular performance was in Omkara as Langda Tyagi … then you’re SADLY MISTAKEN … Saif Ali Khan has bounced back in to the scene! And who else to save the actor’s drowning career boat than “VISHAL BHARDWAJ”… His performance alone is worth the money of your TICKET!

At the pre-set of things – Rangoon is a sweeping tale of love, jealousy and valour located ambitiously, and largely effectively, at a fictional intersection of war, history and generic movie conventions. It is buoyed by superbly modulated performances from the three leads as well as the members of the supporting cast. Rangoon suffers a fair bit on account of its marathon, energy-sapping length and its disappointingly facile climax. But nothing can undermine its power as a risky but worthwhile cinematic idea that has been executed with flair and gumption. As one would expect in any push in an uncharted direction, not all of it comes off equally well. But why carp when the rest of the film is so magnificently manic?

The craftsmanship in Rangoon is from the topmost drawer and its retelling of a crucial chapter of India's freedom struggle is radically revisionist and delightfully angular. Vishal Bhardwaj's stylized film is unlike anything that we have seen in a while. The fact that such a film dares to exist in this day and time is itself not a small marvel. A war film with a woman at its centre? No mean departure from norm.

That apart, it is difficult not to spot the daringly subversive soul of Rangoon. It is best revealed by the three lead characters - none is a Hindu. Neither is any of them a single-toned, flag-waving, chest-thumping patriot striving to enhance his/her value in the eyes of the 'nation'. Does anybody recall a Hindi mainstream film without a single principal character who isn't from the majority community?

One character in the film asks another: could anything be more valuable than one's life? The reply is: Yes, the one that you can die for. What is left unexplained is that the 'one' could be your nation, your people, the person you love and the cause you hold dear, but certainly not something that is constricted by a restraining ideology.

The film's principal villain, Major General David Harding (Richard McCabe), an Englishman who deep down has no love lost for Indians, is a Ghalib-spouting, Urdu-speaking bon vivant. He isn't your usual grim, grouchy brute hurling endless abuse at the natives: he does not lose any opportunity to crack a joke and also speaks Hindustani with great love and passion. What's more, he also has a go at Sindh Bhairavi with the thumri Ka karoon sajni aaye na baalam and does a fine job of it.

Rangoon also reclaims Tagore's Jana Gana Mana from its current narrow confines and, in Vishal Bhardwaj's own voice, renders it in the form of the pre-Independence national anthem of the INA's Provisional Government of Free India. The latter was, of course, adapted from Gurudev's original composition that has now been reduced, in the hands of hyper-nationalists, to a stick to beat those that don't fall in line with their thought processes.

Rangoon is set in 1943. Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful Quit India movement is at its peak. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Azad Hind Fauj, too, has advanced to the subcontinent's easternmost frontier and the British Indian Army is under fire from the air as well as on the ground. The two strands of the freedom struggle are at odds but together serve as pincer attack on the colonial government in the last years of the British Raj.

In a NUTSHELL – WATCH IT ASAP and come out saying the MAGICAL WORDS – which are “BLOODY HELL!!"

My Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trapped - Trailer Review

The nail-biting trailer of Rajkummar Rao’s upcoming thriller Trapped has been released just sometime back.

Throughout the two-minute trailer, I’ve been on the edge of my seat! It shows the actor Rajkummar who plays the role of Shaurya accidentally getting locked in his own apartment, while he prepares to leave in a hurry and the keys are dangling on the lock outside the door!

Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, Trapped is a survival drama of a man who is trapped inside a house of a high-rise for days without food and water and to what extent one can go in the will to survive.

As per reports, the actor went on a difficult diet of just one cup black coffee and a carrot a day for almost three weeks, to get into the skin of his character!

The film has received a standing ovation at the 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival in October 2016.

This much-awaited and critically acclaimed film Trapped is going to hit the cinema screens on March 17th.

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword - Trailer Review

If you keep forgetting that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hasn’t actually come out yet, you’re not alone. Indeed, if you keep forgetting it exists at all, you’re probably not alone there either. After all, it’s been nearly two years since Guy Ritchie entered production on his medieval fantasy epic, which was originally supposed to open in summer 2016. Even Warner Bros. barely seems to be paying this film any mind — they haven’t released a new trailer for its would-be franchise-starter since the last comic con. At that time the release date of the movie was 24th march 2017, now things seem to have been changed.

Supposedly now it has about three months to go until release, which makes the studio finally getting around to marketing it for real. Hence a new trailer for Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has been released. The adventure epic’s cast is led by Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur, Jude Law as Vortigern and Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere.

Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Aidan Gillen, Eric Bana and Mikael Persbrandt all appear too, while David Beckham has a small supporting role as a grumpy and apparently grotesque-looking knight.

To accompany the new trailer, Warner Bros. has shared an official synopsis for the film. It teases: “When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birth right and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.”

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is set for release on May 12 of this year. It is Ritchie’s first film since The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which performed disappointingly at the box office when it opened in 2015.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Ghazi Attack - Movie review

Rana Daggubati, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Om Puri, Nassar, Rahul Singh, Tapsee Pannu

DIRECTION: Sankalp Reddy

DURATION: 2 hours 5 minutes

The time is 1971. A battle is simmering between Pakistan and India. There’s also a battle between East and West Pakistan. And then there’s one more tussle between the commander of submarine S21 Captain Rann Vijay Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and his Navy command appointed officer Arjun (Rana Daggubati) assigned with keeping an eye on the hot-headed captain.

There’s a fourth fight too — the one you have within yourself, between your ethics and logic and your patriotism and instinct. Debutant writer-director Sankalp Reddy takes on all these issues and plays them out mostly underwater represented by a detailed set of the interiors of two submarines. There are a few other shots in the offices of generals on both sides of the border and the rest is special effects. Sadly these artistic and computer generated images of war craft, docks, floating and submerged submarines and torpedo attacks are nothing less than shabby — almost comic book-like.

Rann Vijay Singh’s idol is Colonel George Patton, whose biopic released in 1970. In other words Singh is as shrewd as he is unfettered by rules. Balancing the two and maintaining calm on the boat is loyal-to-a-fault second officer Devaraj (Atul Kulkarni).

The setting of the high sea shenanigans is the Bay of Bengal and the S21 is engaged in a delicate underwater battle with Pakistani sub PNS Ghazi, commandeered by a sneering Captain Razzak (Rahul Singh). Since the Pakistanis are the bad guys not only do they look un-groomed and sweaty but they are also shot from a low angle so that their nostrils flare menacingly into the camera. But Singh is given the dialogue of the film. When a broken S21 dodges the torpedoes by fixing its depth a few metres and simply dodges the line of fire by going up and down, a frustrated Razzak exclaims, “Is he a commander or a lift man!”

At the beginning of the movie you stare at and listen to the narration of an essay packed with disclaimers. You also know that in this film you are going to hear the National Anthem and Saare Jahan Se Acha. But you don’t feel that swell of pride and patriotism because barring Kulkarni, the other actors do not represent any firm stand. On the contrary, Kay Kay Menon plays the captain with the consistency of someone with multiple personality disorder. Then there’s Tapsee Pannu as a refugee who appears to have one instruction: stand in doorways looking shell-shocked.

The Ghazi Attack is an ambitious film for a first-timer and Reddy does capture the frenzy of an underwater confrontation with some finesse. The strategizing and head-to-head between two shrewd seamen at either end of the battle line is handled well as are the dynamics between the officers and crew aboard the ship. It’s not quite on target but it’s a fine effort.

My Rating: 2/5

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jolly LLB 2 - Movie Review

CAST:Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Anu Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Kumud Mishra, Sayani Gupta , Manav Kaul.

DIRECTION:Subhash Kapoor

DURATION: 2 hours 19 minutes

Akshay Kumar is a great actor, his comic timing is fab too, but somehow he doesn’t seem to fit the character of Jagdishwar Mishra aka Jolly in Subhash Kapoor’s satirical comedy Jolly LLB 2. The first part Jolly LLB had Arshad Warsi play the protagonist and he somehow fit this bill of a loser lawyer trying to find a footing. The premise of the first part was extremely organic and full of surprises unlike the current one, which is way too predictable and preachy. What’s worse is that Akshay with his tall fit frame fails to look like a LOSER. And it’s not his failure as an actor, it is just that the actor wasn’t suitable for the role. Here’s the review…

Those who have watched the promos would know that the film like its predecessor is about a lawyer who finds a way in life and career through a PIL (Public Interest Litigation). In this case, Jolly AKA Jagdishwar Mishra is a lawyer by degree but has not fought a single case, despite working at a legal firm owned by a Nawab (Rizviji) for years. Jolly wants to be a real lawyer and not Rizviji’s 15th assistant. His only dream is to own a lawyer’s chamber and make his father proud. Unfortunately Jolly takes the easy way to make his dream come true and ends up losing respect amongst his peers. But that’s not what changes the course of Jolly’s life, he has tricked a desperate client, Hina (Sayani Gupta) seeking legal help from Rizvi’s team of lawyers to get justice for her husband Iqbal Qasim (Manav Kaul), who was shot in a fake encounter by cop Suryaveer Singh (Kumud Mishra). Jolly not only takes on Suryaveer, his top lawyer Sachin Kantilal Mathur (Annu Kapoor), but also the corrupt law and order system with this one case.

Subhash Kapoor retains some gems from his original, Saurabh Shukla (Judge Tripathy) and Sanjay Mishra (Guruji). Akshay Kumar as a lawyer is handsome and funny even in his not-so-fashionable avatar. The actor’s honesty at portraying a character that just refuses to fit him well is commendable. And even though Akshay is the hero of the film, it is the characters of Annu Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla that manage to extract the most reactions from you as an audience. Annu Kapoor as the annoying and obnoxious Mr Mathur makes you hate and laugh with him at the same time. Saurabh Shukla manages to stand tall despite his teddy frame and makes you reminisce his act in the first part.

The dialogues are funny in most parts and the makers have woven in some very obvious filmi references beautifully in the movie. Like for example, when Judge Tripathy asks Jolly to stop acting like Sunny Deol (from Damini) and then again makes another reference when he quizzes Jolly if he has indeed started behaving like Sunny Deol is damn funny. There are also some very unintentional funny moments that are typical to an Akshay Kumar comedy. In one serious exchange between Jolly and pregnant Hina, there’s a hint at Jolly getting Hina pregnant in a not so obvious way and that’s indeed dark yet laughter inducing. Or then when Jolly’s wife Pushpa Pande (Huma Qureshi) is the only one who stands up to clap on hearing her husband’s awesome dialogue delivery in the courtroom.

Even in her cameo Sayani Gupta manages to impress with her portrayal of Hina, while Huma Qureshi delivers even in her minuscule role of Akki’s wife.

In that sense, Jolly LLB 2 can be called as a “masala satirical drama”

If you watched Jolly LLB and loved it, I bet you will miss Arshad Warsi terribly. And again let me assure you it’s not Akshay’s fault, it is the makers who get trapped in his superstar aura. There are few things that are very wrong about Subhash’s attempt at recreating the first part’s magic. JLLB2 gets extremely preachy and boring to a point where you almost end up losing focus. Some instances just don’t fit logic, like Jolly’s salary is a meagre Rs 15,000 but he’s impeccably suited. Yes, they did get Akshay to wear one sports shoes throughout the film however he’s pretty well turned out otherwise.

The storytelling itself fails miserably, ‘coz you do not empathise with Jolly or his fight against the system. Things come a little too easy to him and he manages to wriggle out of some very sticky situations a little too comfortably. The courtroom drama drags at points and fails to tickle your funny bone. Some of the punch lines are a little too inspired and lack originality. There’s also a very blatant brand plug where we see Akshay flaunt a vest that he promotes.

Looks like Subhash Kapoor who had managed to extract fabulous performances from his actors in the first part, fell into the “smitten by star” and “mainstream cinema” trap.

If you are an Akshay Kumar fan, you might enjoy Jolly LLB 2. But if you watched this film coz you loved Arshad Warsi’s Jolly LLB then there are chances that you’ll walk out disappointed.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

Naam Shabana - Trailer Review

Naam Shabana trailer is here and this prequel to Baby has all the ingredients of a taut thriller. Directed by Shivam Nair it stars Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran (returning to Bollywood after 'Aurangzeb), Manoj Bajpayee and Anupam Kher.

Akshay Kumar is seen reprising his role as Ajay Singh Rajput yet again for a special appearance. Taapsee plays the titular role of Shabana.

The film traces the path of Shabana aka Meera. The trailer gives us an inkling about why Shabana joins the intelligence agency and keep us hooked till the end with its clean stunt choreography.

Taapsee’s intense training in the mixed martial arts has surely helped the actor with her stunt sequences, choreographed by Hollywood stunt director, Cyril Raffaelli.

The trailer is equal parts action and drama — spotlighting Taapsee’s transformation from a civilian to an agent. Shabana is trained by Ajay Singh Rajput, and theme of the film seems to be Shabana’s revenge.

Taapsee’s (who had an image changing film in last year’s Pink) caliber comes across as an actor in every frame. The trailer manages to keep audiences at the edge of their seats, wondering about Shabana’s mission and the intelligence agency’s intentions.

The trailer looks promising and just when you think that the dialogues in the movie might not be as good as its predecessor — Akshay Kumar proves you wrong with his punch line in the end. He delivers it with a straight face too, just like in Baby.

The film also has Danny Denzongpa and Madhurima Tuli reprising their respective roles from 'Baby'.

Naam Shabana will hit the screens on March 31, 2017.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rings - Movie Review

Director - F Javier Gutiérrez
Cast - Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio

A lot of things changed in 2002 when the American remake of The Ring came out in cinemas. The horror genre was suddenly no longer one that was identified with cheap thrills and tiny budgets, but a genuine mainstream, classily shot, solid big budget entertainment. The final shot of a girl walking out of the TV became iconic, and Japanese style horror experienced a massive boom.

It’s been fifteen years and a lot has changed – unfortunately the filmmakers of Rings refuse to believe so. This is a disappointingly antiquated sequel that neither entertains nor scares.

Rings picks up in the present day when a two people aboard a plane meet and discover they’d both watched Samara’s cursed videotape. A girl named Julia (Matilda Lutz) is looking for her missing boyfriend Holt (Alex Roe) and discovers some weird segment of college students watching and passing on the tape for fun. She eventually ends up watching the tape, and like the protagonist of the original film goes on a quest to find out its origins and save herself.

Packed with a ton of clichés, the film lazily moves ahead with no real sense of ingenuity or purpose. There’s little chance that people watching this movie would not have seen the original film so getting more of the same, in much more inferior-ly assembled manner is tiring. Moreover, the mythology of Samara and the cursed tape was already well established in the first two films, so it feels like a cheat when this film deviates into a convoluted revenge saga that makes no sense.

Ultimately this is yet another horror movie where a spirit comes back to take revenge – a trope that is best suited in modern times in a more comedic or satirical story than a serious one.

The other big problem is how the film completely fails to be scary. The atmosphere in both the Japanese and the American remake was hair-raising from start to end. There was persistently a feeling of something otherworldly in the air, particularly in the Japanese version – so the final TV twist came off as a hugely memorable payoff. Adapting that twist to modern times in the world of smartphone and TVs makes it not very scary.

There’s far more frightening things in the real world nowadays than a girl coming out of a TV screen. Those who’ve seen the Scary Movie franchise which parodied The Ring — and there are a lot of these — will find themselves chuckling in their seats. There’s just nothing scary about a high definition screen as opposed to grainy footage on a crummy videotape.

In other words this disappointing sequel neither entertains nor scares.

My Rating: 1/5

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Aftermath - Trailer Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger is out to avenge his family in the heavy trailer for Aftermath, which teams him with director Elliott Lester (Blitz, HBO’s Nightingale), screenwriter Javier Gullón (Enemy), and producer Darren Aronofsky (Noah).

The footage sees Schwarzenegger as a construction foreman who suffers through a terrible tragedy: his wife and daughter die in a mid-air collision between two planes caused by an air traffic controller (Scoot McNairy).

His despair is further provoked by thoughtless lawyers seeking to trade compensation for responsibility, which leads him down a path to revenge.

The problem is, his real target has been so vilified by the public that he’s sent into protective custody.

Aftermath, formerly called 478, also stars Maggie Grace as the wife of the air traffic controller.

Aronofsky produced the project through Protozoa Pictures.

The film will open in cinemas on April 7.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Trailer Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is easily one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Prior to the first Guardians movie back in 2014, even many hard-core comic book fans weren't familiar with the obscure Marvel Comics cosmic team, but now they are some of the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Even though the extended spot is less than a minute long, it packs a big punch. It’s got a ton of new footage, including some new action with Yondu, some new Rocket and Baby Groot action, as well as our first look at Elizabeth Debicki as the villain Ayesha. There is also another pretty excellent moment between Drax and Mantis, which is great since their interaction in the first full teaser was arguably the best moment in that trailer.

Here is the official synopsis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."Set to the backdrop of Awesome Mix tape #2, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team's adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill's true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favourite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes' aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand."

Most of the principal cast from the first Guardians of the Galaxy is returning for the sequel. That includes Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket. The sequel has added a ton of new talent as well, including Sylvester Stallone, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, the aforementioned Elizabeth Debicki and Kurt Russell, who is playing Star-Lord's dad, Ego the Living Planet. Karen Gillan is also returning as Nebula and Michael Rooker is coming back as Yondu.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn, who is returning to the director's chair after very successfully helming the first Guardians of the Galaxy.

The movie is set for a release on May 5, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Men Tell No Tales - Extended Look - Trailer Review

The Trailer of the newest installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise Dead Men Tell No Tales is here. It sees Johnny Depp reprising his iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow.

In this adventure, Captain Jack is pursued by an old rival, Capitán Salazar (Javier Bardem), who along with his crew of ghost pirates has escaped from the Devil’s Triangle, and is determined to kill every pirate at sea.

Jack seeks the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artefact that grants its possessor total control over the seas, in order to defeat Salazar.

Along with Depp and Barden, the film stars Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally, and the return of Orlando Bloom as Will Turner. 

Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg direct this installment of the film.

It is sound tracked by Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave”. 

The movie is all set to sail on May 26th, 2017.

Phillauri - Trailer Review

There's lots to love, and giggle about in Anushka Sharma's next film Phillauri.

It begins with Suraj Sharma (of Life of Pi fame) being declared maanglik, and therefore he needs to marry a tree (a common practice to ward of the evil). However, a ghost stuck in the tree (Anushka Sharma) starts to haunt (we use this term loosely) him, claiming he is now married to her.

Anushka looks ethereal as the ghost, even as the VFX (which makes her float and gives her a halo effect) reminds you of Amitabh Bachchan in Bhoothnath. She's a friendly spirit, who then follows around Suraj's character all around his house. This creates quite some tension as he is due to get married in a couple of days.

However, the tone of the film changes completely when someone asks Shashi, the friendly ghost, if she has any remaining desire, because of which she is lurking around. We then go into a flashback, many centuries ago, in Punjab.

It's a fascinating world, quite different from the colourful, contemporary setting that the trailer starts with.

In it, Shashi tells her lover (Diljit Dosanj, looking quite dashing) who is a singer, that he has the power to change the world with his voice. He vows to come back to her only after he has made a name for himself. They both look quite in love, and we are shown how much goes wrong once he leaves.

The film then sets out to show you how the two worlds merge, via one spirit. A quirky and entertaining trailer, Phillauri looks and feels a lot like Love Aaj Kal, what with the sepia tones that are used to depict old-world Punjab. Anushka is the holding ground of the trailer, while there is much intrigue about Diljit Dosanjh.

Phillauri releases on 24 March.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Baghtos Kay... Mujra Kar! - Movie Review

Cast: Jitendra Joshi, Aniket Vishwasrao, Akshay Tanksale, Hemant Dhome, Ashwini Kalsekar, Vikram Gokhale

Director: Hemant Dhome

A fort in ruins, a proud village at its foothills and politics over its development -- all under the common emblem of Chhhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj – is at the core of director Hemant Dhome’s debut movie Baghtos Kay Mujra Kar.

Nanasaheb Deshmukh (Jitendra Joshi) comes from the lineage of the Deshmukhs who spilled blood protecting Shivaji’s Swarajya. He is a proud sarpanch of Kharbujewadi, a village in Maharashtra’s Satara district which was the citadel of Shivaji’s Maratha Empire. And he has a dream – to resurrect the fort currently in shambles. Tourists’ drinking, dancing and littering all over the fort force Nanasaheb and his team of Pandurang aka Panda Sheth (Aniket Vishwasrao) and Shiva (Akshay Tanksale) to take up the task of conservation.

Sarpanch Deshmukh decides to become an MLA, which he thinks would empower him to restore the fort by planting 6,000 trees, harvesting water and electrifying neighbouring villages with solar panels, all in a meager budget of Rs 6 crore.

But the government has an ambitious Rs 1600 crore project in mind for a new Shivaji Memorial. Politics right from the village-head to the chief ministerial levels spoils Deshmukh’s ambitions. This is where his plans of restoration, as so does the movie, seem to derail from the issue in question.

Every character has been showed from every angle, and the writers and actors have delivered a good movie together. The plot is well established in the first half, but the conclusion is not solid.

Director Hemant Dhome, who also plays the negative lead character of Shamsher Patil, has beautifully captured the essence of Sarpanch Deshmukh’s vision of development of the Pratapgarh Fort through drone shots. He also successfully shows us London in context of the storyline.

Dialogues embellished with phrases like Ganimi Kawa (Shivaji’s warfare techniques), aadhi lagin Kondanyacha (Let’s capture Kondana fort first, the rest can wait) and apt casting make BKMK a great watch. While the title track and the Powada featuring actor Shreyas Talpade are remembered, the songs fail to stay with us after the movie.

The movie could have been shorter and done better at the box office had the makers released it when the debate over Shivaji Memorial in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai was at boiling point.

While the movie may not give a lasting or realistic solution, Dhome’s attempt to construct a story around the dilapidated legacy of the Maratha Empire itself deserves applause.

Also appreciated is the stand the makers take over the issue in the movie, conveying a message rather than shying away from the politics of the matter.

It may not be the best of Marathi cinema, but another great experience from the makers of Mi Shivaji Raje Bhonsale Boltoy.

My Rating: 3/5

Friday, February 3, 2017

Wedding Anniversary - Trailer Review

Mahie Gill plays Nana Patekar’s Muse in an upcoming romantic drama, Wedding Anniversary. The film which is entirely shot in Goa, rediscovers the true meaning of love.

Interestingly, this is the first time, Mahie and Nana will be seen together onscreen. She plays the protagonist, Kahani in the film and is seen painting the town red on her wedding anniversary with a mad, crazy writer Nagarjuna, played by Nana Patekar.

The film shot on the beautiful beaches -Bagha, Calangute, Candolim, captures the buzz, colours and nightlife of Goa that attracts people. The film recently completed its shoot.

Speaking about the film, the director Sudhanshu Jha says “Wedding Anniversary‘is essentially a film about love… Love that is magical, and love that resides in the secret corners of one’s heart.”

From what is seen in the trailer it looks pretty under cooked or THANDA … Let’s hope it doesn’t prove to be one, because both the actors are blessed with great TALENT and RECORD.

The film is slated to release on 17 February 2017.

Kung Fu Yoga - Movie Review

CAST: Jackie Chan, Sonu Sood, Disha Patani, Amyra Dastur, Yixing Zhang, Aarif Rahman

DIRECTION: Stanley Tong

DURATION: 1 hour 42 minutes

Martial arts superstar Jackie Chan and India’s very own Sonu Sood headline a film about a lost treasure of the ancient Magadh Empire. Chan plays Jack, an archaeologist and kung fu expert in China who teams up with a young Indian professor (Disha Patani) and her assistant (Amyra Dastur) to locate the missing hoard in Kung Fu Yoga (KFY). Their quest is interrupted by the mercenary Randall (Sood), a descendant of the original owners of the treasure.

It takes immense talent to pull off this kind of action adventure where you want to stir myth, martial arts, humour and pop philosophy into the mix without looking stupid. Director-writer Stanley Tong – who has had great success with Chan in two Policy Story films and Rumble in the Bronx (1995) – does not manage to even lift KFY off the ground.

Why is it called Kung Fu Yoga? Not because there is lots of kung fu and lots of yoga in the film. No ma’am! KFY has plenty of kung fu but almost no yoga, which suggests that the name was chosen because in the filmmaker’s view, kung fu epitomises China and yoga epitomises India.

If Hollywood had stereotyped Asians in this fashion in 2017, critics would have – justifiably – told them off. What do you say to one of your own though (Tong is from Hong Kong) doing much worse than any high-profile Hollywood director has done in years?

The level of stereotyping in Kung Fu Yoga is bizarre. Since Randall is Indian, he just happens to have lions wandering around his home. Jack just happens to find a lion in an SUV he steals from in front of a modern hotel in Dubai. The introduction to the Dubai visit must of course be through a prince showing his foreign guests a camel race. (For the record, the poor beasts foaming at the mouth in that scene are a disturbing sight.)

A regular Indian bazaar – not a tourist resort, but a regular market – just happens to be filled with snake charmers, a rope-trick performer, a levitating mystic, fire eaters and sword eaters, which makes you wonder if this is the kind of exotica Tong actually expects to find on Janpath or in Sarojini Nagar. All this is apparently routine stuff for Asians, in the filmmaker’s book.

It is not easy to write and direct rubbish, and get an intelligent audience to laugh. I can vouch for the fact Kung Fu Yoga is a pile of nothing.

It is a measure of Chan’s innate charm that he comes across as his usual warm likeable self despite being surrounded by zero content. His kung fu moves though, needed better choreography than this film offers. They are sadly unimpressive.

As for Sood, the Hindi film audience knows that he’s equally good at handling gravitas and nonsense since we have seen him in films ranging from Jodhaa Akbar to Dabangg. Try as he might though, he fails to look convinced in this silly action adventure.

Patani (who drew attention in her debut Hindi film, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, last year) and Dastur are wasted on the sidelines, though we do get a glimpse of their ability to throw punches well on screen. Maybe Indian cinema should seek them out for better quality action films.

Apart from the couple of laughs Chan manages to elicit and a somewhat interesting episode in which the younger cast try to escape a pack of hungry hyenas in Randall’s abode, there is truly nothing to recommend Kung Fu Yoga.

This is the kind of film that sometimes gets funny simply because it is so poorly thought out. The mashed-up cherry on top of the half-baked cake is Tong’s shot at doing a Bollywood-style song and dance number right at the end of the film. He is clearly not in tune with the changes in Hindi cinema, or he would have known that our better directors these days – unlike in the 1990 to 2005 period – try to ease their film into the song, if they choose to end with one. No such effort here. The characters are talking and fighting before a statue of Lord Shiva that Jack is trying to save from Randall, and then… boom! … They all start dancing.

Kung Fu Yoga’s effort at a bow to Bollywood is diluted by the dated notion of India that precedes it, in addition to the unmemorable tune and unimaginative moves. It does not help that Sood is terribly awkward in that number.

Still, the closing is not a complete washout. It is energetic, the cinematography is lavish, Patani is easy on the eye, and Chan truly seems to be having fun. For viewers who are nostalgic about him (I am one of them), perhaps that is something to hold on to in this otherwise clumsy, dated, impact less film.

Now excuse me while I go off to do some yoga in the company of my pet tiger, while my pet cobra watches over me in my palace courtyard. Nummusste!

My Rating:  A 1 - Star rating is an act of kindness towards Kung Fu Yoga.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Badrinath Ki Dulhania- Trailer Review

Loved Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt's effortless chemistry in 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania'? Well, then 'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' is just the kind of film you've been waiting for. The hit pair of Varun and Alia is back for the next instalment of the 'Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania' franchise. And the trailer, which dropped online some time ago, packs quite a punch.

The 2-minute-59-second-long trailer starts off with a rehashed version of 'Tamma Tamma' from the 1990 film 'Thanedaar' playing in the background as Varun and Alia share glances. While Varun plays a sweet-natured, hopelessly-in-love Badri, Alia acts as the perfect contrast to him - a feisty, practical and say-it-as-it-is Vaidehi. Be it their fun banter or the romantic scenes, the lead pair serves up a good dose of easy, natural chemistry.

The teaser of the film was released on Monday and within 24 hours it crossed 2.5 million views on YouTube. Though Alia was nowhere to be seen in the teaser, it was all about ‘Badri’ Varun Dhawan and the actor totally stole the show and made it worth watching.

Said to be the sequel to Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, the movie is not taking the story forward and is completely different from the prequel. The film seems to have moved from the urban setting of Delhi to the rural hinterlands of North India. With colourful songs, action sequences and generous dollops of emotions - the trailer promises all elements of a masala entertainer.

'Badrinath Ki Dulhania' is directed by Shashank Khaitan and produced by Dharma Productions.

The film releases on March 10, 2017.

Badhaai Ho - Movie Review

How often have you watched a movie about a middle class family living in a cramped flat and wanted to move in with them, if not forever t...