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)

 

Badri

Umrika

Where do dreams come from? Where do they lead you? In this case a mother’s obsession with sending her favorite son to the promised land of Umrika (America) becomes her loss and the reason for the entire family to fall apart.

The son – that never made it to Umrika – lives a life in the shadows of Bombay, while her loving husband pretends to be the son and writes her letters from Umrika, which not only serve to keep the mother appeased but entertain the entire village. Years later the younger son sets out to find his brother. When he finds him no further than Bombay he decides to fulfill his mother’s dream himself. While one side of the story is described in much detail and finesse the repercussions of this dream are left to the viewers’ imagination. (6/10)

umrika

Amal

When a movie wins several awards and stars Naseeruddin Shah you sit down with a certain level of expectation to be delighted. The entire 101 minutes the story kept building and building until the climax, where either I didn’t understand what just happened because the Director wasn’t very forthcoming with what he was trying to do or the end is just miserably bad. If anyone has seen this movie and can tell me whether Amal can read or not please enlighten me.

The story and its climax aside the Casting Director should be banned from ever suggesting a cast again. Other than Naseeruddin Shah, Amardeep Jha and to some extent Seema Biwas none of the characters showed a spec of authenticity. You really miss the target when your main character – a poor rikshaw driver – is not only monotonous as hell but he’s got a full on Canadian accent while speaking Hindi. I so badly wanted to connect to his character and root for him but Rupinder Nagra’s terrible acting killed any affection one could develop for his character. His shopkeeper friend and the little girl he is tending too are equally “too fancy” to be depicted as lower class.

A story that had potential to be really move the audience was mercilessly slaughtered by bad acting and a plot that is slower than Delhi traffic. (2/10)

amal

Delhi In A Day

A drama set between the haves and have-nots of Delhi. It subtly portrays the satirical lives of the nouveau-riche in Delhi. Sometimes it’s the household help making fun of the “maaliks” and sometimes it’s the grandfather who can’t stand the fake society his children ask him to be part of.

Jasper, a foreign bright-eyed tourist, is trapped between his idealistic thoughts of what India should be and what his host, Kalpana, turns the experience into. When his money disappears suddenly all blame is put on the household help. The remainder of the movie shows how money can mean something completely different to people depending on what end of the social strata they belong to. The most interesting thing that comes out of the pressure to find the money is the beauty of relationships and trust among the have-nots and the lack of conscience of the haves.

Overall, a slow watch despite its short runtime of 88 minutes with a particularly frustrating end as Jasper never gets closure on where his money went. (5/10)

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Dangal

Knock out! A total 10 count knock out!!

What do you call it when you have tears in your eyes throughout a two hour forty minute movie because you are experiencing every emotion ranging from sheer happiness to the pain of evolution to exhilaration fueled by grit? I call it a paisa gazab ka wasool watch!

Aamir Khan is the epitome of quality over quantity. He may only make a movie every year or two but his attention to detail clearly pays off for the viewer, at the box office and most importantly for the final work he produces.

Imagine a man who has the determination to alter every inch of his body to fit the part will likely have left no stone unturned to research the world of wrestling before making this piece of work.

The casting director deserves a big fat hug for finding THE most appropriate Geetas and Babitas there could have possibly been. Both the younger and grown up versions of them are born actresses.

A majority of the story is narrated by Mahavir Singh Phogat’s (Aamir’s character) nephew, which gives the script the flavor of a perfect third party narrated bestselling novel. The tone is carefully measured, the jokes are subtle and on point, the dialogues are crisp – never too much or too little. Not a hint of Bollywoodesque over-dramatization, masaalapanti or plain out popular tastelessness.

One may question a father’s cruel ways of raising his daughters to fulfill his dreams, not asking if it’s theirs too, but a beautiful scene between three girls so craftily puts into perspective the difference between no dream and “a” dream. Sometimes it’s better to give your children direction than not giving them anything at all except a bleak beaten future.

This movie touches upon so many topics, including the obvious one of women empowerment. What caught my attention was the relationship between a father and his children. Often, children discount their parents’ advice or never even truly seek it because they don’t trust it will help them reach their goals. They believe progress lies in places outside their parents’ reach and unknowingly follow paths that are regressive rather than progressive. Yet, a parent swallows the pain and stands behind their children like a solid wall of support. I saw many shades of my own father’s journey in this story. Despite what he thinks may be the right course of life things have developed differently in our lives. Yet, time and again he continues to be on our sides every step of the way. (I know he will likely not be reading this but here goes a silent Thank You to my father.)

It’s hard to make a good film but you know what’s harder? To make a film like Dangal after a Mary Kom and a Sultan and still make the other two look like they bit the dust! (10/10)

dangal

Dhanak

What a gem of a movie that went unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of Bollywood’s glam. Released at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2015 it took this movie over a year to make its way back to India to be released in June of 2016. At less than two hours this is a must watch.

In this world of shiny big objects, worldly success, the rat race towards an end that likely doesn’t even exist there are these two little orphaned siblings in a village in Rajasthan with simple dreams and an attitude I wish I could borrow. They embark on a relentless journey to regain the little brother’s eyesight which he lost as a four year old due to malnutrition. It’s a story as much about the goal as it is about the journey. Despite the hardships of these little children the way they – literally – walk through life is admirable. It restores my faith in “good things happen to good people”.

Hard to believe the child actors are not actually siblings. The love between them is palpable. Pari’s never ending smile and Chotu’s zest for life are infectious. Dhanak is beautifully crafted with emotions, a touch of hope, and not to forget soul-touching Marwari songs!

Thank Goodness movies like these are still being made. (10/10)

 

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Mirzya

I read an interview of Rakeysh Omprakahs Mehra’s in which he said he was still looking for an answer to why Sahiba broke Mirza’s arrows when her brothers came attacking him. He went to many of his friends in the industry to seek an answer but could not fine one. Well, let me tell you, he didn’t find one through the process of making this movie either! Nor was he able to depict the characters in a way that the viewer could find one for themselves.

ROM keeps shifting between the old and the new views of the Sahiba-Mirza legend. The new fails to impress and the old looks more like endless slow-mo scenes from the gladiators. Who ran around with mohawks in ancient times in India??

Anil Kapoor’s children have a history of launching with horrible movies – remember Saawariyan nine Diwalis ago? If you don’t you are probably better off.

Harshvardhan Kapoor is just alright. Besides, I barely got to see him since he was hidden behind his hair and facial hair for most of it. It’s a Kapoor family thing, ya know? (3/10)

mirzya