Anaarkali of Aarah

Some believe that every legal means of earning your living is respectful. Some judge the worthiness of a person by their profession. Too often we jump to conclusions about someone based on their work when, really, all that should matter is their character, personality and their core values.

If a girl is born to a village dancer what are the realistic chances she will become anything else but a village dancer herself? Very few make the rags to riches stories. Reality looks a lot more different. This is the story of Anaar, a girl who sees her mother being shot at an early age and fends for her life as a village singer for male entertainment.

One particular man of power misbehaves with her thinking that women like these will go to any length and won’t mind it, but Anaar – despite facing severe repercussions – plots to set this man straight.

It was interesting that Avinash Das introduced characters that not only ogled at Anaar but also some that actually revered her and treated her with utmost care and respect.

Swara Bhaskar’s and Sanjay Misra’s acting is mind-blowing as expected. Small town story with a big message and simple execution. (8/10)

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Jab Harry Met Sejal

I wish he had never met her so I would have never sat through this 150 minute ordeal of a non-story. A complete dud with the only thing going for it being gorgeous European settings and high production quality.

You would need to consult a Psychologist to understand all the things that are off with Sejal’s character. She starts searching for a ring given to her by someone she can’t stand, becomes complete chipku to a tour guide for no logical reason whatsoever, despite multiple warnings that he may not be the right person to hang out with and turns a womanizer inside out within a week or two.

Even from a stylistic perspective there was nothing going on here except her red and black jackets. SRK completely fell into the black hole of my memory in his permanent black/grey garb.

I was just so infuriated by the crappy story and frivolity of this movie that I couldn’t quite tell if I liked the acting or not. Had this not been set in the beautiful cities of Europe these two location points would have also gone down the drain. (2/10)

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Mom

Sridevi had her second come back with a bang. An actress of her caliber deserves strong stories like English Vinglish and now Mom. She is looking as ravishing as a 53 old can possibly look and the way she gets under the skin of her character really carries the movie on her two dainty shoulders.

A well made thriller except I am not sure it was necessary to bring in a stepmother – stepdaughter twist into it. It served more as a distraction to me rather than an enhancement to the story. Also, there was no need to alter Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s appearance so much since it wasn’t required for his character to come across any more authentic.

When you a make a movie that’s otherwise pretty flawless small things, such as unnecessary humor between Sridevi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is not required. All it did was interfere with the severity of the matter at hand.

All-round stellar acting by everyone and a story that is not at all unimaginable in today’s India. (9/10)

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Noor

Refreshingly simple and effective story revolving around a female lead character. I haven’t yet fully made up my mind about Sonakshi Sinha. I think her acting is better than some of her contemporaries’ and her atypical of Bollywood looks make her more “real” than them.

Sit through the first half as the second one gets better and touches upon morals in journalism and the role of media in shaping a society rather than just being the mirror of decaying social values.

I should mention that Purab Kohli has rarely looked better but then we already know douchebag characters require hella good looking people to play them.

Particularly enjoyable were the witty dialogues between the characters and Noor’s authenticity in her monologues. (6/10)

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Hindi Medium

In the face mockery of the Delhi social scene. Shall I call it a circus or a zoo? The show-off-giri in Delhi (and for that matter in many other places in India) is getting out of hand. “My sari is more bling than yours.” “My car is bigger than yours.” “I have more servants than you do.” “I eat at fancier restaurants than you.” “My kids are more accomplished than yours.” “My dog poops silkier than yours.” “I dare not speak Hindi with my kids lest I be considered downmarket.” Phew!

A couple tries to buy, trick, steal their way into the “upper echelons” of Delhi society to be able to send their daughter into a top Delhi school. While the topic clearly deserves attention, the execution lacks finesse. Great talent like Irfaan’s has been overshadowed with juvenile direction and a tad bit too much drama. (4/10)

Hindi Medium

Begum Jaan

Interesting walk through history as well as the profession of prostitution on the Indian continent. Much loathed but rarely understood. Where do these women come from? What kind of homes did they belong to? How did they end up in a brothel? And most importantly WHY did they end up in a brothel? Why do they exist?? Who frequents them?? You can’t blame the flame for burning down the forest without raising an eye at the match stick that lit it on fire!

This movie starts and ends on a provocative scene of an old lady/girl baring herself in front of assaulters – both times forcing them to step back in shame due to their age. What happens in between is the story of Begum Jaan who runs a brothel at a place that is to be separated by the India-Pakistan border in 1947 forcing her to give up her home. It’s a story of hope, despair, will, deceit, grit and gut that will hopefully be the beginning to an end of this entire vicious cycle.

Powerful acting by everyone. A dark but interesting watch. (7/10)

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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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