Shubh Mangal Savdhan

Ayushmann Khurrana has this ability of getting scripts that allow him to play the every day man and he does an incredible job portraying the guy next door with a conviction that I keep hoping guys next door can actually be as cute as him. 🙂

In Vicky Donor Ayushmann took on a role of a sperm donor – a courageous move for an actor who is setting out to build his career in Bollywood. In this movie he plays a man with erectile dysfunction – an even more courageous move. Kudos to him for breaking the mold and bringing to light issues that actually exist but nobody wants to talk about.

It’s very easy to turn subjects like these vulgar and tasteless but the director nicely navigated around that without leaving out the humor entirely. Were some of the scenes exaggerated? Yes. Was it weird to see the family react like that? Yes. But nevertheless, it was an entertaining watch and a departure from the typical Bollywood formula. (6/10)

SMS

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Budhia Singh – Born To Run

This one is Dangal gone a bit awry. The movie itself wasn’t bad, nor was the execution of the story. Maybe the story itself just didn’t deliver that feel-good ending and hence didn’t provide the same uplift of spirits as Dangal did.

This is a true story about a poor 5 year old boy who gets raised by a coach because he  discovers his running talent and wants him to represent India in the Olympics. Progressively, he trains the child to run longer and longer marathons – 48 of them! -, which culminates in his desire to have him run a 70+ km marathon. The kid gets a lot of attention from the media and government and eventually the child welfare commission steps in and takes him away from the coach as they deem it cruel for a little child to run that long. Similar to Dangal there is a merciless drive in the coach but with this one you really question the coach’s motives. He has a much darker shade of grey than Aamir Khan had. He’ll go to any length, including dangling a water bottle in front of a running 5 year old boy to make him run longer when he is about to collapse from thirst. Eventually the child gets taken away from him and the coach is killed by local politicians. Today, Budhia Singh is in a boarding school for sports but he is not allowed to run marathons by the government. The ending of the movie is a call to action to do something about it and help Budhia live his passion.

Manoj Bajpai is as fine of an actor as it can get. He slips under the skin of any character but his madness for fame as Biranchi Das, the coach, made you want to punch him multiple times during the movie, which the director tried to soften up a bit by inserting a scene or two showing his softer side.

Overall, a good movie without the fairy dust of a Dangal. (7/10)

Budhia singh

Chef

Ok, I like to be lazy too at times but if I had a couple of crores on the line I would probably put in a bit more effort in localizing the content of my production instead of literally remaking the American version of it with no changes whatsoever. I know calling it ‘Bawarchi’ would have been unacceptable for some people’s social norms but even the name wasn’t changed. You can’t just take an American movie, slap a few Indian faces onto it and expect it to resonate with the viewer. There is a nuance to Indian characters that was grossly overlooked, some scenes were just purely awkward and that kid, Svar Kamble, could use some acting school.

The ending of the movie is just so conveniently non-sensical that you want to dig your face into a pizza right away. Save your $12, buy a pizza instead! (2/10)

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Kahaani 2

I wish I had re-watched Kahaani before seeing its sequel to better understand what has shaped Durga Rani Singh into the person she is in this movie. All throughout this thriller I was left a bit irritated at the choices she is making without clearly understanding where she’s coming from. Inder, her ex-husband, also makes conflicting choices that need to be unraveled in the end in a rather anti-climatic manner.

Recently, there have been a multitude of movies on the topic of child molestation (Mom, Maatr, etc.) with this one being a less ‘obvious’ one, yet one that should not be shoved under the carpet.

Both Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal acted like veterans do. It’s still hard to understand why Arjun Rampal didn’t get more opportunity in Bollywood. He acts and looks far better than many a superstar of the masses. (6/10)

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Sarbjit

This one is based on a true story of a brother and sister that fought for over two decades to get a governmental mistake corrected. They endured years of torture and trauma, an uphill battle against the India-Pakistan hatred, and the eventual death of the brother. As many disastrous endings this one took its beginnings in alcohol. The brother got too drunk with a friend in the fields of Punjab one night. Instead of walking home he walked over the India-Pakistan border and got captured as a terrorist suspect. He was given a mistaken identity and tortured to – well – death over the next 20+ years while his family, led by his strong sister Daljeet fought for his release only to get his ashes back one day.

How many innocent people fall victim to false suspicions or maybe even intentional malice is anyone’s guess but for an individual and his family a small mistake like this can literally be life-changing – for the worst.

The casting director, while doing a location tour in Punjab, must’ve inhaled way too many drugs to make the call to cast Aishwarya Rai for a role like this! I appreciate the fact that she wants to branch out from her “pretty-face-roles” but she should also have the self-awareness that she can simply NOT act. Her dialogue delivery and expressions are one of the worst I have seen among Bollywood actresses. A very serious character role is simply not her forte. Randeep Hooda on the other hand should win an award for portraying Sarbjit. You can read fear and despair off of his face. Acting out a tortured, dilapidated prisoner was likely the hardest role he’s had yet but he did it with a lot of conviction. (5/10)

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Bareilly ki Barfi

I wasn’t expecting too much from this. I went to watch this on a leisurely weekday afternoon on one of those days where life took priority over work. I thought it would be a low budget, poor story movie but I was very positively surprised by how entertaining and well made this was!

It’s a small town love story filled with all the drama you can imagine. Kriti Sanon wants to meet the author of a book she feels describes her real-life character in the novel. Since Ayushman Khurana published that book under a friend’s name to protect the identity of his ex-girlfriend who the book was actually about, he now has to introduce Kriti to his simpleton friend who has since moved to another town. His plan is to train the absolutely innocent friend to act like a macho for a few days so Kriti is heart-broken in her romantic pursuit and then he can step in to mend her heart and make her fall in love with him. Despite rigorous training to turn Rajkumar Rao into a douchebag his goodness shines through and Kriti and her family fall in love with him. Meanwhile Rajkumar Rao falls in love with Kriti’s friend but because Ayushman Khurana messes that romance up for him he decides to take revenge by stealing Kriti away from under his nose. In the end the right couples get together and all ends in an happy ending.

The way the story is woven is intricate yet very simple. Every scene is brimful of entertainment. I haven’t seen too much of Kriti prior to this movie but she seems alright. It’s hard to say with loud roles like these – something that Parineeti Chopra is always cast for. Ayushman and Rajkumar on the other hand blow it out of the water!! What amazing acting. I wish I had been able to rewind scenes in the theatre to watch them over and over again. (10/10)

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Jhootha Hi Sahi

Chanced upon this really cute romantic drama seven years after its release. It is to some extent modeled after the American sitcom Friends but still turned out refreshingly sweet and charming.

Seeing John Abraham in a sensitive romantic role for a change, instead of his action movies, was a real treat. Rarely have I seen such a pleasant, natural and real-life-like actress. This was Pakhi’s second movie ever and she clearly outshone many other “popular” actresses that unfortunately get a lot of footage in Bollywood.

The protagonists develop a relationship over a suicide prevention hotline not knowing each other’s identity and then happen to meet in the bookshop run by Siddharth. From there a beautiful story of double identity unfolds. Deep down what I loved most about the plot is that Mishka didn’t give up on Siddharth even after she felt betrayed not once but twice. What counted for her were his pure intentions and his heart of gold. People with an eye like hers and the patience to accompany it are rare to find these days.

Taking away one point from a perfect 10 for the overly filmy and unrealistic climax scene. (9/10)

JHS