Naam Shabana

Just like the second kid can rarely be as good as the first one (hoping my sister is not reading this!) the sequel to a movie often doesn’t measure up to the expectations set by the original.

The Director tried to use Baby’s recipe, including many of the key cast members but wasn’t able to replicate the taut storyline and magic of Baby. Danny’s scenes got cut down from four to two, Manoj Bajpai has been added as another layer of administrativia, and Akshay Kumar has only been hired to hold Taapsee’s arm and drag her through buildings as if she can’t walk on her own. Also, who in the world hires someone as handsome as Prithviraj Sukumaran as the bad man?

Awkward dialogues, lack of a good story and absolutely no explanation as to why they needed to cast a woman in the role of the secret agent when Akshay Kumar could have done all she does makes this a meh watch. Everyone these days is just trying to ride on the feminism gravy train which failed in this case. (5/10)

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Badrinath Ki Dulhania

Kavya from ‘Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania’ saw the Women’s Rights movement making the rounds around the globe, jumped on the bandwagon and came out as a transformed modern day woman called Vaidehi on the other end to now become ‘Badrinath ki Dulhania’.

‘Tis the story of a very real struggle of women who grow up in homes where an early marriage is the ONLY dream they are allowed to harbor and their parents bend their backs collecting dowry because grooms are sold according to the size of their daddy’s homes, cars and egos. Marriage brokers that come to your house and ask for “kitna lagaenge shaadi mein” as soon as they plant their derrières on your couch really do exist – I am speaking from experience that almost made me lose my composure and shoot darts at them before I nudged my parents to throw them out of our house.

There is a nice ying and yang between aspiration and realism in this movie which hits the pulse of today’s day and age. Though some scenes are really cliched and added for pure mass entertainment, such as Kritika’s swayamwar, her clarity in thought about who she is marrying is commendable. Vaidehi, too, is marrying “under her league” but she finds the unexpected in Badri which is all that a relationship sometimes needs to work out.

I found it interesting that the filmmaker chose to broach the topic of rebellion against a deep engrained system of patriarchy in which sons are merely puppets of their dangerously commandeering parents. Helping them move along with the times is as much their children’s responsibility as their own. For all the Vaidehis out there – if your Badri is not willing to create a reasonable environment for you two to live in within the fiefdom of his dad – run, run as fast as you can!

Alia Bhatt’s acting is like a cheese pizza from the same shop. Consistently good but always tastes the same. I can’t wait to see her in a more subdued, silent, thoughtful character. Even though Udta Punjab was quite different her angst filled role was very familiar.

Varun Dhawan tried visibly hard to act like the UP ke bhaiya but he was skirting at the edge of authenticity and childishness. Comic roles are not his forté. He did much better in a far more serious Badlapur.

Oh, and taking away a point for horrendously butchering Tamma Tamma when we know that remixes can be as good as the original – look at Humma Humma. (7/10)

 

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The Girl On The Train

Hardly a well kept secret but a good reminder that I should read the novel before I watch the movie. What was a bestselling novel by Paula Hawkins turned into a mediocre thriller on celluloid. It’s rare that someone can turn an intricate thriller into an equally well-made movie – as was the case with Gone Girl.

Emily Bunt’s acting is spot on but her deranged look and coldness never lets the viewer sympathize with her condition. For the first half of the movie she establishes herself as an annoying psychopath and when the plot turns things end so quickly that you never have the chance to celebrate her existence in any way.

Certainly watchable but not worth preparing for shivers and screams. (4/10)

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Jolly LLB 2

My recollection of its prequel is weak so it would be unfair of me to compare the two but maybe this is a case where the Director decided to ride on the profit wave of an established success. And he did. Financially, Jolly paid off but the entertainment quotient was just mediocre. While Akshay Kumar did complete justice to his role the story just did not have the same gravitas I am used to from his films after watching a Baby, Airlift and Rustom.

Huma Qureshi had nothing to contribute to the story line. Nevertheless, it was a delight to see someone cast as the lead actress who is not a size zero. Breaking molds in the image obsessed Bollywood she is convincingly showing everyone that talent is not measured at the waist.

Far too rarely seen on the big screen these days, Annu Kapoor is brilliant as ever and Saurabh Shukla plays the role of a somewhat unbelievable, comic judge whose whim decides the course of the case at hand. (6/10)

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Kaabil

Same story. I lost the draft that I wrote on the plane but in this case it was actually regretful. I watched this movie with very little expectations knowing that Hrithik Roshan mostly acts like a five year old in the body of a very – umm, handsome – adult. But buckle your seats because Hritik Roshan takes you on a surprising ride with his outstanding acting in Kaabil. Even more so because acting to be blind is likely more difficult when you can actually see.

Sanjay Gupta crafted very likable characters for Hrithik and Yami. They were underdogs to begin with but there was an ease in their personalities that instantly drew me to them. As the story unfolds they meet with an evil fate and their world turns upside down. It becomes a story of revenge in absence of justice by law.

Some of the dialogues stuck with me as they were unexpected and quite thoughtful, delivered flawlessly by our hotter-than-legally-allowed protagonist and a very skilled Ronit Roy, who is one of the finest underrated actors Bollywood has.

Yami, too, fit her role of a delicate girl full of grace and positivity well. She looked particularly gorgeous as a simple bride.

Glad to see Indian cinema bringing awareness to differently abled people even if in ways that are uniquely Bollywood. (8/10)

Raees

I know I am massively late reviewing this one. It’s been two weeks since its release. I watched this one just a few days after it came out with my family and wrote the review on my plane ride back to California. However, I lost the darn draft, which is actually far less consequential than losing one’s brain like what seems to be happening to King Khan these days. The last movie of his I could tolerate – besides Dear Zindagi in which he had a cameo role – probably saw the light of day in 2006. Movie after movie after movie he is cheating his massive fan following out of their entertainment budgets.

I saw Raees at home in a comfy home theatre, with incredible sound and the perfect back lighting so I can’t even blame the crowds and tiring experience of standing in a line to get into the theatre for the bad taste this movie left in my mouth. Other than Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s stellar acting – as expected – Raees has absolutely nothing to offer. I slept through at least a third of it and, no, I was not jet-lagged when I saw it.  Apparently, I was not the only one. My sister, who went to a theatre to see this (!) and normally is never in agreement with my tastes also slept through it.

Mahira Khan, who acted extraordinarily well in Pakistani TV serials was just a controversy stirrer for the publicity of this movie. No role, no sense, no acting.

SRK, you seem to be a smart guy with LOTS of money. Maybe put it to use somewhere else? (2/10)

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Ok Jaanu

Ok, stop it! Making a movie tailored to just millennials isn’t going to cut it Mr. Ali. And that too one that’s more predictable than the sun rising from the East. Even the US elections presented a far more thrilling show this year.

Boy and Girl feel attracted to each other, move in with no strings attached and six months later when it’s time to move to foreign lands for career reasons they realize they are not just in lust but in love too. Hoopla! Time to get married and then “we’ll figure it out”.

The Humma Song was the only reason I dragged myself to watch this millennial drama in a theatre. While the songs were all a treat everything in between was a wash.

I am being generous with my rating because of the juxtaposition of Naseeruddin Shah’s love story to the Kapoors’ fling. (3/10)

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