Pad Man

It’s commendable to see an actor use his celebrity to spread awareness about a serious issue plaguing the country. Akshay Kumar is no stranger to putting his muscle to use for good causes, be it supporting the Armed Forces, drawing attention to farmer suicides or now making sure the taboo around what’s part of a woman being fertile no longer stays a taboo.

This movie, based on Arunachalam Muruganantham’s life, explores how menstruation is associated with shame and how women themselves make something as routine as this an issue of impurity. On the one hand certain cultures in India celebrate the coming-of-age of young teenage girls when they get their first period with grand fanfare, on the other hand they are told periods are impure, they have to sleep outside the house, cannot visit the temple, cannot enter the kitchen and the list goes on. The moment you ask “Why?” you get a big imposing stare translating into “How dare you ask?” because even the people setting the rules don’t know the answers. Just like human evolution or creation (whichever you believe in) created the digestive system to keep the energy flow going it also created menstruation to support a woman’s fertility. Why is that a problem?

The movie has some slightly preachy, edging towards documentary style dialogues at the beginning which is understandable because many of its viewers may not even know why female hygiene is important and how big of an issue that is. From there unfolds the underdog to hero story that may not be incredibly entertaining but with an actor as fine as Akshay Kumar still becomes an interesting watch.

The crescendo of his skill comes to bear during his final speech at the United Nations where he is more convincing than many trained public speakers I have watched. This one doesn’t go to feminism, or entertainment, or any other motif of movie making. This one is an ode to innovation, perseverance and purely goes to Askhay Kumar’s acting ability. (7/10)

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Padmaavat

Too much beauty is lethal – as a weapon and to the life of the one who possesses it or claims any right to it.

I wish I could meet Karni uncle and ask him if he saw the same Padmaavat as I did. If anything this movie serves an epic glorification of the Rajputs. They are the heroes of this saga from every angle you look at it unless you are hanging upside down with your brains hanging out your ears. Rajputs are portrayed as courageous, kind, cultured, intelligent, hospitable, respectful and soaked in a pool full of integrity. Even the Queen showing her reflection to Khilji is done to save Mewar, not to bring dishonor to it. Karni uncle, problem kaai hea?

The three hours I was practically absorbed by the movie (almost literally – I had the center seat in the very first row) I kept wondering what happened to Khilji raaj’s descendants? Shouldn’t they be the ones rioting for the animalistic portrayal of their King? I am not a historian but was Alauddin Khilji really as bestial?

Why didn’t Sanjay Leela Bhansali just call this movie Alauddin to begin with? He was the one driving the story and eliciting all sorts of reactions from the Rajputs. So what if he was the antagonist? Had the crew thought of the proposed name change all that hoola hoop could have been prevented. But who am I to know if it was intentional or not?

Bhansali is known to create magic of epic proportions on screen and Padmaavat is no different. From Deepika’s no-make-up make up look, to Shahid’s tanned skin and toned abs, from Ranveer’s black aura to his barbarism, from the grandeur of the palaces to the dust of Rajasthan’s vast expanse, from the glitterati of Rajput and Mughul jewels to the brushed cottons and gotas of the Rajputs’ outfits. Awe inspiring in every fold and frame! Bhansali, aisi cinematograpy pe 100 thappad kurbaan!

No one but Ranveer Singh could have done justice to Alauddin’s character. His off screen craziness served him very well in Alauddin’s boots. We all know Shahid is a great actor but who knew his petit frame could fit the grandeur of a Rajput King too? Deepika, a bit too solemn on her expressions, is graceful as ever.

The authenticity of the actual story aside this movie is a complete advertising package for the Rajputs. Even something as cruel as Jauhar is made to look morally superior and outright glamorous. The dialogues are dripping of Rajput pride and a Rajput Queen is given an equal pedestal as a Rajput King.

Whether a woman fights for a man, with a man or against a man, her fierceness rooted in reason is the most attractive trait she can possess. Padmavati’s beauty got her in trouble, her brains crowned her with victory and Khilji’s madness led everyone to a ruinous end. Sound familiar? Oops, sorry men.

The climax visuals were absolutely grand: A sepia castle going under in a soft yet ravenous fire, a sea of women in red and amidst all that a lion-maned Deepika slipping out of a blackened Khilji’s heinous sight. How can you make destruction look so stunning? Leave it to SLB. (9/10)

 

Tiger Zinda Hai

Tiger kabh marega? … was the thought looming over my mind as I was exiting the movie theatre at 1am in the morning. I can understand why the audience erupts into whistles and cries (the happy kind) when Salman Khan takes over the screen – shirtless – and out of nowhere procures a kalashnikov to singe-handedly finish the whole Syrian army troupe on the scene. But somewhere deep inside, where I lock up my brain before I embark to watch a Salman Khan movie, my logic is rebelling and letting out suppressed cries of pain. I know movies are meant for entertainment yada yada but after being spoiled with quality action thrillers like Baby and Airlift this Tiger business doesn’t measure up more than a meek meow.

For the first time ever I felt Katrina did a half-decent job. Guess why? She didn’t need to speak much. She was fully consumed by fierce-fully slaying Syrian goons. Quite the power packed sight.

Now if you have to – like me – see every movie whether it’s worth it or not by all means drive yourself over to the next theatre but if this is not a vice for you stay at home and spend the time doing something wiser. (3/10)

TZA

Dhobi Ghat

This is the story of four very different people whose worlds collide in the big brawny city of Mumbai. They find themselves drawn into intertwined relationships: Shai – an investment banker turned photographer on sabbatical, Arun – a lonely painter, Munna – the “dhobi” who aspires to become an actor and Yasmin – using her camcorder to “write letters” to her brother who has never been to Mumbai. The film follows how their lives are changed by the presence and absence of one another.

Completely off the beaten path, not your typical Bollywood film. Part documentary, part indi-touch it provides plenty of food for thought as you see four characters very unlike each other deeply caring about one another. Munna likes Shai, Shai likes Arun and Arun is shocked by Yasmin’s diary.

Very laid back watch for a day you don’t want Bollywood glitz and glamor on your screen. (7/10)

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Half Girlfriend

I have never read anything from Chetan Bhagat but if this is how he writes stories I don’t really regret it. Or was it just Mohit Suri who made the story look terrible?

Saving grace is that no great actors were harmed in the making of this film. They took terrible actors like Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor to begin with. Phew.

Clearly, there was a social message to this story, one that left me with a knot in my throat during the later half of the movie but the terrible acting and predictability of everything else made this a laughing stock. Extra big grin for someone’s creativity to superimpose a damn Snap filter on someone’s body with Bill Gates’ face. Come on!

Whoever understands the concept of a “Half” Girlfriend please enlighten the rest of us. (1/10)

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Ittefaq

One ticket – Two stories

This mystery thriller is a remake of the 1969 movie starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda. I haven’t seen the original but this is an entertaining watch with a good storyline that has reveals lined up as the movie progresses. Most of it takes place inside the apartment of Maya, a bored housewife indulging in an affair that adds interesting twists to the plot.

Akshaye Khanna’s acting chops are to watch out for. He’s found his genre and I hope to see him doing more of what he does so well.

Abhay Chopra tried to please too many audiences at once and introduced humor that simply has no place in a thriller. Do one thing and do it well, sir!

Good one time watch but no sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. (7/10)

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Tumhari Sulu

#MainKarSaktiHai

Every housewife is more – some of them far more – than just a housewife. While women in the workforce get to play out their personalities with a legit tag of a working woman, the ones working in their homes are often ‘discounted’ as bhenjis. Here comes Vidya Balan to show you that personality trumps title and ambition trumps education!

Never have I seen a non-body-conforming Bollywood actress carry herself with so much confidence on the silver screen. A housewife, married to a sales manager and with a 11 year old boy facing peer pressure she is living a middle class life. Her twin sisters rub in their success every so often on their visits and tell her what’s right and wrong for her but she doesn’t let herself be belittled and goes on to become a RJ for a borderline raunchy late night radio show. With her unique people skills she shows the owners of the radio show that a saree-clad bhenji has more to offer than meets the eye. She takes the vulgar out of the show and is fully enjoying her work when the typical Indian husband surfaces in her otherwise loving husband. The loss of authority in his job and the happiness of his wife in her job don’t sit well with him so she leaves her job for 5 minutes to join it back in a jiffy as soon as she finds him a tiffinwaala job with the radio channel. Yeah, the last 5 minutes of the movie were just as confusing as my previous sentence. Not sure what happened there and why all of a sudden she decides to rejoin when she just handed in her resignation – but maybe someone else can explain that to me.

Fabulous acting by Vidya Balan and Manav Kaur. Totally not important to this review but I have a thing for men with strong jawlines. 😉 (6/10)

TS